8 Healthiest Nuts and Seeds To Include In Your Diet For Better Health 2023

amita fotedar

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

healthiest nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are loaded with beneficial nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals), antioxidants, and health-promoting calories. The rich nutritional profile of nuts and seeds lends unique health benefits[1]. These may reduce cholesterol and inflammation, alleviate the risk of stroke and heart attack, and even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Though many weight loss options are available, some evidence suggests that nuts and seeds may also help in the weight loss process. Nuts and seeds aid in body weight regulation as their fats are not completely absorbed; they help burn energy and regulate the intake of food. 

If you’re curious to learn more about the amazing health benefits of nuts and seeds and how to use them for weight loss, here’s everything you need to know. 

Healthy Nuts And Seeds For Weight Loss

Contrary to the traditional belief that nuts and seeds are full of calories and can make you fat and obese, research suggests that eating nuts and seeds actually aid in weight loss if consumed in the correct proportion. Nuts and seeds contain a myriad of beneficial micronutrients[2], including:

  • Minerals (magnesium, calcium, potassium, selenium, plant iron, and zinc)
  • Polyunsaturated fats ( omega-6 and omega-3)
  • LDL cholesterol-reducing phytosterols
  • Blood flow regulating amino acid – arginine 
  • Carotenoids
  • Antioxidants (resveratrol, flavonoids, tocopherols (vitamin E)

The nuts and seeds help in the regulation of body weight as their fats are not fully absorbed, and hence they help burn energy by regulating the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates present in the food.

Nuts and seeds help with:

  • Fat absorption – Fats are present in nuts and seeds’ cell walls, which are not absorbed during digestion. Less fat absorption means less energy absorption as well. Some of the fat that remains unabsorbed is passed out in our feces.
  • Hunger and fullness – nuts and seeds help you feel full for longer, thereby increasing satiety and helping to suppress our hunger. This eventually reduces food intake.
  • Energy expenditure – nuts and seeds increase the energy we burn from fat sources, meaning more energy is burned, and there is less fat storage. 

Some of the nuts and seeds that help in the weight loss process have been discussed below:

Pistachios

healthiest nuts and seeds

Pistachios, or pistas, contain monounsaturated fats (healthy fats) soluble in nature that have been shown to boost weight loss. These are also rich in fiber and proteins that give you satiety, thereby preventing you from overindulging at mealtime. These nuts are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. So, 30 grams of pistas[3] or a fistful serving size every day does not cause any significant change in the weight. They help in meeting the daily dose of healthy fats, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients help keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol in check.

What’s more? In-shell pistachios are extremely beneficial in the weight loss process, as they promote mindful eating. These also reduce triglycerides in obese and diabetic people. 

Brazil Nuts

healthiest nuts and seeds

Brazil nuts are rich in fiber and protein, both of which aid in losing weight[4]. The nuts are a good source of arginine – an amino acid that reduces fat and increases muscle strength. Arginine also increases insulin activity, thereby manipulating fat metabolizing hormones. Other beneficial nutrients present in brazil nuts include; selenium, thiamine, and magnesium—these aid in burning the fats at a very fast rate, thereby helping in dropping pounds more easily.

Cashew Nuts

healthiest nuts and seeds

Fats present in cashew nuts increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol. Magnesium in cashew nuts regulates fat metabolism and carbohydrates, which aid in weight loss. Though cashews are high in calories[5], consuming no more than one ounce (28.35 grams) every day can actually help lose weight.

Almonds

healthiest nuts and seeds

Almonds are loaded with antioxidants[6], fiber, and proteins. Fiber is filling, so when you munch a few almonds every day, you feel no hunger for a more extended period of time, giving you a feeling of fullness. Almonds can lower your calorie intake, which is vital for weight loss programs. Almonds are also rich in healthy fats, vitamins & minerals that are good for heart health and for reducing LDL (bad cholesterol). Good fats in almonds are digested slowly, which provides energy for an extended period of time and helps develop lean muscles.

Flaxseeds

healthiest nuts and seeds

Flax seeds are rich in mucilage fiber that suppresses hunger[7] and stops you from overeating, thereby reducing belly fat. These fibers also improve glycemic control (a way of managing the blood glucose level), helping balance insulin and blood glucose levels. Both of these effects may help with weight loss.

Pumpkin Seeds

healthiest nuts and seeds

With or without their shell, Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein[8], fiber, and unsaturated fatty acids. They are also rich in magnesium, protein, B vitamins that aid in maintaining healthy blood vessels and eliminating bad cholesterol in the blood. Also, these seeds contain a good amount of zinc that helps in boosting the body’s metabolism. These nutrients make pumpkin seeds ideal for weight loss. 

Chia Seeds

healthiest nuts and seeds

Chia seeds are rich in carbohydrates, and they swell up when soaked in water. This liquid-absorption ability of chia seed[9] increases feelings of satiety, reduces appetite, and prevents you from overeating. The seeds are rich in fiber that is vital for regulating fat and body functioning. The fiber content also eliminates toxins and extra fats away from the body, ultimately helping with weight loss.

Walnuts

healthiest nuts and seeds

Walnuts stimulate fat loss[10] while encouraging healthy body weight maintenance. The nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats) that reduce the ghrelin hormone – responsible for signaling hunger in the body. Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) also help in lowering high cholesterol, promoting overall wellness of the body.

The nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) that help suppress hunger and prompt the body to burn fat quickly. Walnuts stimulate a region in the brain called the right insula that controls cravings for food. 

Ellagic acid is an antioxidant compound present in walnuts, that alleviates inflammation, and improves gut health. This results in an improved metabolism rate, which in turn eliminates extra calories and fat faster.

In addition to the above, eating macadamia nuts, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds offer similar benefits as other nuts and seeds when it comes to health benefits and weight.

How Nuts And Seeds Can Help You Lose Weight?

There is no magic bullet that will help you shed those extra pounds. A healthy diet, exercise, and good sleep are key to a healthy weight and overall wellness. However, several research studies[11] have reported that regular consumption of nuts and seeds is not linked to weight gain and may even prevent it. 

High in proteins and fiber, rich in good fats, and low in simple carbohydrates, nuts and seeds stimulate your body to shed excess weight by burning excess fats. Additionally, you can brighten your salads, desserts, smoothies, and meals with nuts and seeds as they make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet. 

One important thing to remember when eating seeds and nuts are the numbers of calories they contain. Nuts and seeds are energy-dense eatables as they are loaded with a lot of healthy nutrients and antioxidants. They are also rich in proteins and fibers that keep you full for a more extended period of time, preventing you from overeating and also from eating junk. Researchers have found that eating nuts[12] are associated with more significant weight loss, better diet compliance, enhancement of wellness and physical health, and improved satiety.

How To Include Nuts And Seeds In Your Diet?

  • Sprinkle nuts and seeds into sauces, salads, brown rice, quinoa, or veggies
  • Add nuts and seeds to yogurt or hot cereal
  • Add them to popcorn
  • Make a nut sandwich
  • Toss them in a stir-fry or add them to baking recipes

Bottom Line

Nuts and seeds are versatile and delicious. When eaten every day, these small gifts from mother nature improve health in multiple ways, like reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, improving metabolism, and reducing cholesterol. Eat them raw, toss them with yogurt or fruits, or add them to salads or desserts – make these superfoods a part of your daily diet. Enjoy your weight loss process by eating these nutritious high-fiber treats in moderation — despite their high-calorie count. However, do not forget to balance exercise and a healthy diet to reach your weight loss goals.


+ 12 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Ros, E. (2010). Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients, [online] 2(7), pp.652–682. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/
  2. ‌International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. (2013). Nutritional evaluation and health promoting activities of nuts and seeds cultivated in Greece. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637486.2013.793298
  3. ‌Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2013). Pistachio Nuts Reduce Triglycerides and Body Weight by Comparison to Refined Carbohydrate Snack in Obese Subjects on a 12-Week Weight Loss Program. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2010.10719834
  4. ‌Brufau, G., Boatella, J. and Rafecas, M. (2006). Nuts: source of energy and macronutrients. British Journal of Nutrition, [online] 96(S2), pp.S24–S28. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/nuts-source-of-energy-and-macronutrients/AAAEDDA038B08C0A00C802F00A7F4171
  5. ‌Dias, C.C.Q., Madruga, M.S., Pintado, M.M.E., Almeida, G.H.O., Alves, A.P.V., Dantas, F.A., Bezerra, J.K.G., de Melo, M.F.F.T., Viera, V.B. and Soares, J.K.B. (2019). Cashew nuts (Anacardium occidentale L.) decrease visceral fat, yet augment glucose in dyslipidemic rats. PLOS ONE, [online] 14(12), p.e0225736. Available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0225736
  6. ‌Proquest.com. (2021). Health Benefits of Almonds – ProQuest. [online] Available at: https://www.proquest.com/openview/353b1f60cf1c6f6a79695bfc423c6494/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41269
  7. ‌Ibrügger, S., Kristensen, M., Mikkelsen, M.S. and Astrup, A. (2012). Flaxseed dietary fiber supplements for suppression of appetite and food intake. Appetite, [online] 58(2), pp.490–495. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666311006969
  8. ‌Lestari, B. and Meiyanto, E. (2018). A Review: The Emerging Nutraceutical Potential of Pumpkin Seeds. Indonesian Journal of Cancer Chemoprevention, [online] 9(2), p.92. Available at: https://ijcc.chemoprev.org/index.php/ijcc/article/view/225
  9. ‌Sreeremya, R. (n.d.). Nutritional Aspects of Chiya Seeds. [online] International Journal of Advance Research and Development. Available at: https://www.ijarnd.com/manuscripts/v2i1/V2I1-1146.pdf
  10. ‌Rock, C.L., Flatt, S.W., Barkai, H.-S., Pakiz, B. and Heath, D.D. (2017). Walnut consumption in a weight reduction intervention: effects on body weight, biological measures, blood pressure and satiety. Nutrition Journal, [online] 16(1). Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12937-017-0304-z
  11. ‌Ros, E. (2010). Health Benefits of Nut Consumption. Nutrients, [online] 2(7), pp.652–682. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/2/7/652/htm
  12. ‌Sabaté, J., Ros, E. and Salas-Salvadó, J. (2006). Nuts: nutrition and health outcomes. British Journal of Nutrition, [online] 96(S2), pp.S1–S2. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/nuts-nutrition-and-health-outcomes/A6B24850CBF6B793122B6A77F6421774
amita fotedar

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Dr. Amita Fotedar is an experienced research consultant with a demonstrated history of working in elite research institutes such as the UNDP. She has a Ph.D. in Life Sciences, and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Studies from International Pacific University (New Zealand Campus), and has also achieved certification in Climate Studies from Harvard University. She has done a MicroMasters specialization in Sustainable Energy from The University of Queensland (Australia). She is also a co-founder and research consultant for a New Zealand-based sustainability and environmental services entity. Dr. Amita Fotedar firmly believes in the mantra of "health is wealth" and has a special interest in health and wellness topics. She is a freelance writer who covers health-related topics and is a lead author for many health publications and websites.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Harvard Health Publishing

Database from Health Information and Medical Information

Harvard Medical School
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology
Go to source

MDPI

United Nations Global Compact
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source