What's the Most Nutritious Nut?
A few weeks ago the National Peanut Board, which represents America's peanut farmers, launched a new campaign to highlight the nutritional benefits of nuts. As a promoter of all things peanut, I am constantly frustrated by people who think they can't possibly be good for you. Many assume that other nuts, especially almonds, are "better for you," which just isn't true.
The fact is that most nuts, when eaten in moderation, offer energy and other nutritional benefits in a very snackable form. The info on the Skinny on Nuts website focuses on one-ounce servings of the seven culinary nuts most commonly consumed in the U.S.: peanuts, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, and almonds.
The biggest surprise for many people will be the seven grams of protein per peanut ounce. Peanuts have more protein than any of the other nuts. Almonds and pistachios both come in at six grams of protein per ounce, while pecans have only three grams per ounce.
Macadamias and pecans have more fat than any of the other nuts, with 22 and 21 grams per ounce respectively. At 13 grams of fat per ounce, cashews and pistachios have the least amount of fat per ounce. Peanuts aren't far behind with 14 grams of fat per ounce.
A one-ounce serving of most nuts contains two to three grams of fiber, the exception being cashews, which have just under one gram of fiber per ounce.
In reviewing all of the data, though, I was most surprised by the info on plant sterols.
Plant sterols—what are those again? Cholesterol-like compounds found in plants that can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Peanuts champion the other nuts with 62 milligrams of plant sterols per serving. Pistachios are close behind with 61 milligrams.
Do you snack on nuts to keep you going throughout the day? Or to prepare for a workout, or recharge afterward? What have you always considered to be the "most nutritious" nut?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.