Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios… these are just a few of the varieties that come to mind when the word “nut” is brought up. While they are undoubtedly absolutely phenomenal for your health, why are you ignoring their fiends? I’m not talking about their way distance and complicated cousins (like the chufa, cobnut, filbert, or pinyon nuts); the one’s I’m talking about are the little guys you ignore in your trail mix or skip over on the grocery shelf. These nuts contain just as many health benefits as their popular counterparts. So, do yourself a favor and give these five nuts a permanent home in your pantry!

1. Chestnuts


Nobody thinks about the chestnut until Christmas time rolls around, which is such a pity because this nut is both incredibly versatile and healthy! Chestnuts are very different from other nuts in that the meat inside of its shell is extremely starchy and soft, lending it to better utilized in the same way as a vegetable or a grain. Because of their high (complex!) carbohydrate content (about 45 grams per 3 oz serving), the chestnut provides your body with the  nutrients it needs to sustain energy levels.  In addition, these nuts also contain a high amount of the mineral manganese, an antioxidant that eliminates free radicals in the body as well as provides protection against UV damage. Low in calories and fat but high in vitamins C and B, as well as providing more than half the daily recommended amount of Copper per 100 grams, chestnuts are a nutrient powerhouse that deserve to be a part of your diet. To reap the benefits of chestnuts, it is generally necessary to boil or roast them. Using a sharp knife, simply carve an X into the flat side of the nut and roast  in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Once finished, peel off the skin and store for no more than a few days in the fridge or wrap well and freeze. Use in oatmeal, stews, cakes, or just simply eat them out of hand!

2. Brazil Nuts

brazil nuts

In my house, everybody ignores the poor brazil nut in the container of mixed nuts that is always in my kitchen. I don’t understand why! People must be intimidated by its size. Well, I’m here to put your fears to rest and let you know that this guy is one friendly giant. An excellent source of two very important mono-unsaturated fats (palmitoleic acid and oleic acid), the brazil nut is king of maintaining your levels of LDL and HDL). It also contains nearly 50% of your daily intake of  the powerful antioxidant, vitamin E. To add to its growing credentials, the brazil is host to a slew of minerals including: copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, and (most notably) selenium! Containing the highest concentration of selenium of any known food (3485% of the recommended amount per 100g), just two or three nuts a day could help your body fight against liver disease as well as certain types of cancers. The best part? No prep is required! Simply throw a few into your next batch of granola (chopped,  if the size offends you) you’ll be doing your body a world of good.

3. Pine Nuts

pine nuts

You’ve probably seen this nut scattered across the top of a plate of hummus or as a decoration on some other similarly dish but the pine nut deserved to be utilized for so much more than its appetizing crunch. Delicious, convenient, and super popular in the Mediterranean diet, this nut holds on unbelievable amount of nutritional power.  The nut (okay, technically it’s a seed but shh) contains the fatty acid known as pinolenic acid, which has been proven to aid in weight loss by curbing appetite and it also packs a mean punch of vitamin E. It is also an excellent source of the b-complex vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, b-6, and thiamin, all of which work together to maintain a healthy immune system, increase energy, and lower your risk of developing certain diseases. With a mild flavor and a serious crunch, the pine nut makes a great addition to salads, sandwiches, cereals, or any other dish your heart desires.

4. Macadamia Nuts

macadamia nuts

I know you eat macadamia nut cookies but have you ever thought of eating macadamia nuts…on their own? I know, the idea itself sounds ludicrous. But isn’t life all about doing crazy things? The macadamia nut has a very unique taste; sweet and creamy, I can almost taste the tropical air off of them. Despite its small size, the macadamia nut is one of the most calorie dense nuts available to us which means a small serving will take you a very long way. High in dietary fiber as well as fat, it is a great source of food for lasting energy, whether it be to get through your morning workout or simply to hold you over through that uncomfortable gap between lunch and dinner. It contains trace amounts of more than 8 different essential minerals as well as vitamins such as niacin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. Because of their natural sweetness, they pair perfectly with almost any type of dessert. Crush a few and sprinkle them on top of frozen yogurt for a tasty way to get your vitamins and minerals.

5. Pecans


The pecan is definitely the most popular nut on this list but I have a feeling that you guys still don’t eat enough of them as you should. I know I don’t, but it’s not because I don’t love them! It is because pecans are so freaking expensive. However. if you are a careful shopper and you look out for sales as well as buy in bulk, you could easily have the pecan as part of your daily diet. Like most other nuts, the pecan is high in many mono-unsaturated fatty acids and thus, provide your body wit the proper type of fat it needs to perform at its best. In addition, the pecan is a rich source of phyto-chemicals which have been proven to remove free radicals from the body. It contains high levels of copper, iron, manganese, and vitamin E, which we  all know by this point are excellent for your body. The great thing about the pecan is that it’s extremely nutrient dense, which means it takes less than a handful to reap the benefits it has to offer. My favorite way to eat them is chopped up and thrown on top of oatmeal but you can eat them whatever way you want! Try roasting  them with a little bit of maple syrup and cayenne pepper for a sweet and salty treat.

What is your favorite kind of nut?


All images via Thinkstock

Claire is a 21 year student hailing from New York City. She is currently in her senior year at Hunter College, where she is finishing up her English Degree. When she's not at school, she can usually be found working behind the counter at her local bakery. Claire loves to cook and spends an embarrassing amount of time looking up recipes for every dish imaginable. She is particularly fond of trying new dishes and believes that the best way to connect with people is through sharing food. Google