nut, almond, walnut
Torey Walsh

Almonds are all the rage today because they are nutrient dense and versatile.  They can be enjoyed roasted, raw, as almond butter or milk, in trail mix, used as flour, sprinkled on top of salads, and many more.  All nuts are higher in calories because they contain high amounts of fat and protein.  However, the fats in almonds are mostly "healthy fats".  The fats are deemed mostly healthy because they contain saturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, and primarily monounsaturated fats.  Saturated fats are the unhealthiest of the fats, but one serving of 28 grams of almonds contains only 1 gram of saturated fats and 13 grams of saturated fats.  This healthy ratio of fats leads to benefits of decreased risks of heart disease, weight loss, and assists with insulin regulation.  Almonds also contain vitamin E;  an important antioxidant that fights off free radicals.  Without your RDA of 15 mg of vitamin E, oxidative agents begin to break down important DNA and proteins in your body.  Lastly, almonds contain significant amounts of magnesium and iron.  20 percent of your magnesium RDA can be found in one once of almonds.  Magnesium is an important mineral for the formation strong bones as well as muscle and nerve functions.  Iron is important for the formation of cells in your body- particularly red blood cells.  Red blood cells are needed for transferring oxygen throughout your body.  However, the iron found in almonds (and other nuts) is non-heme.  Non-heme iron is not as easily absorbed when consumed on its own.  For optimal absorption, you should consume vitamin C alongside your non-heme iron snack.

Brazil Nuts

These are those weird slug shaped nuts that you'd find in your parents' mixed nut jar as a child.  But technically Brazil nuts aren't even nuts at all; they're seeds.  Regardless, these seeds, along with sunflower seeds, are high in selenium.  Selenium is important for reproductive health, prevention of oxidative stress, metabolism, hormone production, and improved insulin sensitivity.  Vegans tend to be deficient in selenium, but not to worry because just one brazil nut per day will get you to your RDA of 55 mcg of selenium!  Besides selenium, these nuts contain 33 mg of potassium per nut, which will help you have a restful sleep, provide muscle and bone strength, and support blood pressure.  As mentioned above, these nuts aid in prevention of oxidative stress.  Further into that subject, these nuts contain antioxidants that have been linked to lower levels of Alzheimer's disease.  A few ways to enjoy Brazil nuts include chopping them up into brownies, muffins, or loaves, using them in pesto, adding them to trail mix, or sprinkling chopped Brazil nuts onto oatmeal or salad.  


Thai, salad, coconutbowl, Healthy, Vegan, glutenfree, kale, Cashews, homemade
Nicole Burnett

Cashews are beloved by people of all ages and diets.  These nuts rule vegans' worlds because they're often used as dairy replacements that happen to be insanely delicious.  Beyond the vegan world, these nuts are great in many other meals like cashew chicken, curry, on top of salads, stir fries, in tacos and soups, smoothies, and salsas... The possibilities are virtually endless.  These are all tasty ways to enjoy cashews, but there's more to these nuts than delicious flavor.  Like almonds, cashews contain magnesium- although not as much per serving size.  Furthermore, cashews contain 98% of your RDA of copper.  Copper aids in production of melanin which is important for healthy hair, skin, and nails.  One ounce of cashews contains about 5 grams of protein, 2 mg of iron, 10 mg of calcium, 12.4 grams of healthy fats, and 1.64 mg of zinc (along with more vitamins, minerals, and nutrients).  Zinc is important because it helps you metabolize carbohydrates, aids in your sense of taste and smell, is important for infant development during pregnancy, and it helps your body heal wounds.             


nut, chickpeas, garbanzo, cereal, hazelnut, legume
Phillip Massey

These nuts are famously adored for their flavorful additions to chocolates and pastries.  Hazelnuts, like other nuts, contain healthy fats, protein, and fiber.  The fiber help with bowel functions, helping to prevent constipation.  These nuts also contain the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps stop cell damage as well as prevent cancer.  Along with other nuts, these guys help reduce bad heart health.  Their healthy fats lower bad cholesterol and lower weight gain with their satiating nature.  One ounce contains 86% of your RDI of manganese.  This trace mineral is important for your brain, enzyme, and nervous system functions.  As mentioned above, these nuts are great ways to enhance sweet treats.  Chocolate hazelnut spreads are great on their own, but they are also great in a variety of pastries and other confections.  If you don't enjoy sweets all that much, not to worry- these nuts are great in meals too.  They can be used in pesto, pastas, used as a crust coating for meat served in a rich sauce, roasted and used as a salad topping, and they work great with mushroom pastas.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are very similar to hazelnuts in many ways.  They're mostly consumed in sweet foods.  Ever heard of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies? Of course you have, who hasn't heard of these deliciously sweet cookies?  Beyond their flavor profile, the two are alike in their nutrition aspect as well.  They contain manganese, healthy fats, protein, thiamin, dietary fiber, and they also contain copper.  By this point, you already have heard enough about the benefits of copper, but Thiamin, a.k.a vitamin B1, is used for the conversion of carbohydrates into energy.  Without the pyruvate that B1 provides you with, you'd have virtually no energy.  Although most people appreciate macadamias in sweet treats, there are other ways to consume this nut;  in couscous apricot chicken salad, in coconut tofu bowls for a vegan lunch, as nondairy milk, in granola, as nut butter, in a salmon poke, or grind them up and use them as crust for your grilled chicken.     


cereal, coffee, nut
Katherine Carroll

This versatile legume exists in many forms;  as peanut oil, as peanut butter, as flour, as protein powder, and even as milk.  These nuts are packed with healthy fats and quality proteins, making them high calorie, oily seeds.  This is why they are often used as oil for cooking and frying.  Disclaimer:  the proteins arachin and conarachin are found in peanuts, and they're a common allergy for people to have a severe or life threatening reaction to.  Peanuts have a very low glycemic index because they're low carb and high fat and fiber, making them great for people afflicted with diabetes.  Peanuts are not only full of nutrients, they're loaded with vitamins and minerals as well.  Previously mentioned vitamins and minerals like copper, vitamin B1, manganese, vitamin E, phosphorus, and magnesium are found in this legume.  Additionally, peanuts contain vitamin B9 and B3.  B9, or folate, is important during pregnancy for development of blood cells, bone marrow, DNA, and RNA.  Vitamin B3, niacin, is linked to lower rates of heart disease.  This calorie and nutrient dense food is good for many reasons, but it shouldn't be consumed in excess because too much of a good thing can have adverse effects.  Great peanut dishes include stir fries, pad thai, Asian chicken, fried rice, Asian cucumber and peanut salad, Chinese noodles, peanut crusted baked chicken, and many more.  There's plenty of room in the world of sweets for this legume as well!  Peanuts can be used in butter cream, ice cream, loaves, brownies, muffins, cheese cakes, chocolates, cookies, candies, and so much more.


chocolate, pecan, sweet, cake, pie, pastry, candy
Sam Jesner

Pecans aren't only adored for their lovely texture in baked goods and on top of salads.  They're also highly praised for their huge variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.  These nuts contain previously mentioned thiamin, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, protein, healthy fats, and zinc.  Additionally, they contain folic acid, which is important during early pregnancy, as well as for people afflicted with anemia.  One ounce of pecans contains 10% of your RDA of fiber, and they are naturally sodium-free.  Like peanuts, they're low carb and high in healthy fats.  Pecans can be enjoyed as nut butters, in pastries, ice creams, loaves, muffins, cakes, brownies, fudges, and many more.  Other less sugary ways to munch on these nuts include dishes like grilled squash with bleu cheese and pecans, kale and apple salad, porcini-and-pecan pate, butternut soup, pecan-crusted chicken, quinoa pilaf, and even in steak tacos with chipotle salsa.


vegetable, pistachio, nut
Ally Tobler

In about 50 pistachios, you'll find 8 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, and 12 grams of fats (predominantly of which are healthy fats).  This balance of nutrients adds up to be one of the lowest calorie nuts you can eat.  The high ratio of essential amino acids is notably important because they're the building blocks of proteins- another thing these nuts offer.  No other nut contains as many amino acids as pistachios, and it's important that you include essential amino acids in your diet because your body isn't capable of making them on its own.  Yet another health benefit of this nut is that they're lean, green, weight loss machines!  They're high in energy, yes, but they also help you feel full longer and provide you with plenty of protein and fiber.  This miracle nut also has proven to lower bad cholesterol by replacing it with HDL, or good, cholesterol.  Aside from their abundance of healthy nutrients, pistachios contain vitamins and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, thiamin, copper, and manganese.  They also are high in vitamin B6, which is needed for blood sugar regulation and the formation of hemoglobin.  Not only are they fun to crack open and snack on, they're also amazing in tons of sweets like macarons, baklava, muffins, and ice creams.  Savory plates with these nuts sprinkled in include goat cheese salad, crusted on BBQ pork tenderloin, and almond-pistachio rice.  


nut, walnut, sweet, cereal, honey
Torey Walsh

I cannot express to you how much of a blessing these nuts are for vegans like myself.  They're amazing for anyone to eat, unless you have an unfortunate allergy to walnuts, but especially for the highly restricted lifestyles of vegans, these nuts are a wonder.  They have more antioxidant activity than any other nut, which comes from their melatonin, vitamin E, and polyphenols.  Antioxidant activity is more than a fancy phrase, it prevents the damage caused by LDL, bad, cholesterol.  Additionally, they contain omega-3s which are essential to your diet because one cannot live without them.  Omega-3s are hard to come by for vegans, so this is the main way for plant based dieters to get this essential fat in their diet.  Another benefit of walnuts is that their polyphenols, magnesium, and arginine help reduce inflammation.  Inflammation causes many chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's.  Some of the cancers that walnuts may reduce the risk of include prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.  Along with prevention of harmful antigens, these nuts provide healthy aging.  Their essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats, and proteins support physical functioning.  One of the most important luxuries of consuming this nut include its impact on brain functioning.  Walnuts look like brains for a reason, they benefit them!  Their ratio of fats, vitamin E, and polyphenols provide a reduction in anxiety, improvements in memory and learning, and faster thought processes.  Besides banana nut bread, these nuts are yummy in fudge, on salads and oatmeals, in cookies, in granola, in cinnamon rolls, spiced, candied, and in roasted squash medley. 

Bottom Line

nut, cashew, meat, hazelnut
Kirby Barth

Nuts of all varieties have benefits;  some more than others.  Choose which nut is right for you depending on what specific health benefits, vitamins, nutrients, and or minerals you're looking for.  Now that you know all of the health benefits of each and every nut, you'll be able to decide what trail mix is right for you.  It is very easy, nowadays, to find nuts just about anywhere.  Nuts have been made into butters, yogurts, milks, cheeses, syrups, and many others.  So basically, your only excuse for not including these little nuggets of nutrients in your diet is if you're allergic to peanuts and tree nuts!  Additionally, if you're a big fan of nuts in their natural form, they are amazing in numerous meals, desserts, and snacks.  They are all great snacks and have numerous benefits when enjoyed in moderation.