Benefits of Nuts & Seeds
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Home Benefits of Nuts & Seeds

Nuts in general are very nutritious, providing protein and many essential vitamins, such as A and E, minerals, such as phosphorous and potassium, and fibre. Nuts are also high in carbohydrate and oils, so shouldn't be eaten in excess.

Whereas pulses all belong to the legume group of plants, nuts come from a variety of different plant groups, so the nutritional content is more varied too. A brief description of individual varieties is given below, together with the main nutrients they contain.



Almond oil is used for flavouring and for skin care preparations and is extracted from the kernel of the Bitter Almond. The Sweet Almond is grown for nuts for eating and have the largest share of the nut trade world-wide. Almond flour is available and it is possible to make a nutritious nut milk from almonds. Almonds are particularly nutritious, 100g contain 16.9g protein, 4.2mg iron, 250mg calcium, 20mg vitamin E, 3.1mg zinc and 0.92mg vitamin B2.


Native to America but now grown extensively in India and East Africa. It will withstand rather drier conditions than most other nuts. The nut grows in a curious way on the tree, hanging below a fleshy, apple-like fruit. It is related to the mango, pistachio and poison ivy. High in protein and carbohydrate, 100g cashews contain 17.2g protein, 60 micrograms vitamin A, 3.8mg iron.


Hazel, also called Cob, is a common wild tree in Europe and Asia and its nuts have been eaten by humans since earliest times. The cultivated varieties are bigger and the filbert is a similar but bigger species from SE Europe. Used in sweet and savoury dishes, they are available whole, ground and flaked, or made into oil and nut butter. 100g hazel nuts contain 7.6g protein, and they are lower in fat than most other nuts.


Also known as groundnuts or monkey nuts, peanuts are actually legumes. Of South American origin, it's now an important crop all over the tropics and southern USA. It gets its name groundnut because as the pods ripen, they are actually forced underground. Peanuts are high in protein and contain 40-50% oil. The oil is used in cooking, as salad oil, in margarines and the residue is fed to animals. Whole peanuts can be eaten raw or roasted or made into peanut butter (look out for brands which do not contain hydrogenated oils, which are highly saturated). As they are usually inexpensive, they can be mixed with other kinds of nuts to bring down the cost, while still maintaining flavour and good nutrition. 100g peanuts contain 24.3g protein, 2mg iron and 3mg zinc.


Native to the Near East and Central Asia but has long been cultivated in the Mediterranean region and more recently in the Southern US. The kernels are green and are prized as much for their ornamental colour as for their flavour. Also sold roasted and salted in their shells. They are more expensive than most other nuts. 100g pistachios contain 19.3g protein, 14mg iron, 140mg calcium.


It is grown for timber as well as its nuts. Walnut oil has been used for centuries in the preparation of artists paints. High in fat, they go rancid very quickly and should be stored in the fridge or freezer. 100g walnuts contain 10.6g protein and 2.4mg iron.



Can be eaten raw or cooked in both sweet or savoury dishes. Delicious toasted and sprinkled, while hot, with soya sauce and served on salads. They are rich in protein, iron, zinc and phosphorous. 100g pumpkin seeds contain 29g protein, 11.2mg iron and 1144mg phosphorous.


An annual plant belonging to the daisy family, it probably originated in North America or Mexico. North American Indians cultivated sunflowers as long as 2,000 years ago. The oil extracted from its seeds is used in margarine, varnishes and soaps but the seeds can be eaten whole, raw or cooked. They can be added to breads and cakes or sprinkled over salad or breakfast cereals. A good source of potassium and phosphorous, 100g sunflower seeds also contain 24g protein and 7.1mg iron and 120mg calcium.


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