What’s the best nut to crack?

High in protein, fibre, good fats and minerals, nuts pack a nutritional punch. Here are five of the best you should include in your diet.

Nuts are one of the healthiest snacks going around.

High in the good stuff – including healthy fats, antioxidants, and minerals such as calcium – nuts have been found to have a positive impact on everything from cholesterol and blood pressure to mood and concentration.

They’re also highly versatile and can be added into everything from protein balls and breakfasts to salads, stir-fries and spreads, says dietitian and nutritionist Brianna Fear-Keen.

So, when it comes to nuts, which ones do experts recommend?

Five favourite nuts loved by nutritionists


Not only are almonds often the most popular and affordable nuts, but according to Brianna, who runs Your Family’s Nutritionist, they are also chock-full of health benefits.

“They have equal parts of carbs and protein with a slightly higher fat content but are also rich in fibre, magnesium, vitamin E and manganese.”

Thanks to all these antioxidants, almonds are great for boosting your immunity, reducing bad cholesterol and helping muscle recovery.

Brianna recommends eating about 30 grams of almonds (about the size of a matchbox) a day.


Much like almonds, pecans are also high in good fats, protein, fibre and carbohydrates.

“Mineral wise, they’re really high in thiamine, zinc, calcium, potassium and manganese,” Brianna says.

“We know that zinc, in particular, plays a significant role in our hormone health for males and females.

“It also helps with our immune system, wound healing, repair, recovery, DNA synthesis, and growth and development.”

And she says pecans are particularly good for lowering triglyceride levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.


Want a mood boost? Dietitian Isabelle Goodwin, who runs Izzy the Dietitian, suggests reaching for some cashews.

“Because I work in the mental health space and with eating disorders, I’m talking a lot about mood and supporting concentration, and cashews are actually the nut highest in a protein called tryptophan.”

Tryptophan is an amino acid that forms a big part of serotonin – the happy hormone, she says.

“For foods like cashews that are high in tryptophan, it can actually help us build more serotonin, and therefore support our mood and our concentration, and, actually, memory too.”


For brain health – and even eye health – look no further than walnuts, Isabelle says.

“They’re the highest in omega-3 fats, which are probably the fats that none of us get enough of.

“Our brains rely on fats to work properly and be able to signal our nerve pathways.”

Isabelle says fish is a common source of omega-3s, but walnuts can be a great alternative for those who don’t enjoy eating fish or don’t have much access to it.

For optimum brain health, she suggests eating a handful at least three or four times a week.

Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are bigger than your average nut, so you only need a tiny amount to start reaping the health benefits, Isabelle explains.

Packed with selenium, an essential mineral, Brazil nuts help protect your body from chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

“So they’re good for people who have thyroid issues, because often people who have thyroid issues are also low in selenium.”

But don’t go overboard, Isabelle says.

The average person only needs about two Brazil nuts a day.

For more ways to boost your diet:

Written by Larissa Ham.