Here's our list of favorite nuts, ranked by their nutrient density. These varieties contain the most protein, fiber, B-vitamins, calcium, minerals, and vitamin E for the least amount of saturated fat:
Almonds. Our "Top Nut" award goes to the almond. Here are the main nutrients in one ounce of almonds (a medium-size handful):
5 grams of protein
14 grams of fat (90 percent unsaturated)
4 grams of fiber (the highest fiber content of any nut or seed), unblanched
80 milligrams of calcium
1.4 milligrams of zinc
1 milligram of iron
6.7 milligrams of vitamin E
some B-vitamins, minerals, and selenium
Filberts, (hazelnuts) because they are high in the amino acid tryptophan, are a good nut for sleep. Almonds and filberts have the most vitamin E (6.7 milligrams per ounce) - nearly 25 percent of the adult recommended dietary allowance.
Sleep Nuts } Eating a small handful of nuts as a before-bedtime snack may help you catch more Z's. Some nuts and seeds, especially whole filberts and ground sesame seeds, have a high amount of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan.
Walnuts have the greatest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chestnuts are lowest in fat, containing only about 10 percent as much fat as other nuts. What little fat is in the chestnut (1.3 grams per ounce) is nearly all the unsaturated type. Chestnuts also contain three grams of fiber per ounce, but they are relatively low in protein.
Soybean nuts and peanuts are not really nuts at all. They are legumes, and they come from plants rather than trees. Both are very nutritious. Soybean nuts, while less popular because of their less appealing taste, are actually the most nutritious nut. A quarter cup of soybean nuts contains a similar number of calories to other nuts, yet packs the following nutrients:
17 grams of protein
9 grams of fat (90 percent unsaturated)
3.5 grams of fiber
138 milligrams of folic acid (33 percent of the DV)
116 milligrams of calcium (10 percent of the DV)
2 milligrams of zinc (around 15 percent of the DV)
1.7 milligrams of iron (10 percent of the DV)
19 micrograms of selenium
When purchasing soybean nuts, avoid those that are roasted in "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils.
Roasted nuts are more flavorful and spoil less quickly, yet how they are roasted makes a big nutritional difference. Dry roasted nuts don't have any added fat. Oil roasted means the nuts are fried in oil, which adds around ten percent more fat calories to the nuts. This is no big deal unless the nuts have been roasted in saturated or hydrogenated fats (e.g. coconut oil); check the label. An increase in saturated fats lessen the nut's main nutritional claim to fame - they're low in saturated fats.
While heating or roasting nuts does enhance the flavor and reduce spoilage, it also may alter some of the essential fatty acids. This is why processed nuts are less likely to go rancid, but the tradeoff may be a loss of healthy nutrients. Seeds and nuts themselves are more nutritious than the oil extracted from them, at least in theory. Seeds and nuts contain natural vitamin E, which protects their oil from going rancid. Processing may remove some of the natural antioxidants in the nuts and seeds.