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Which Are the Most Protein-packed Nuts?

Protein is an essential part of everybody’s diet. Proteins are present in every cell in the human body and are often referred to as the building blocks of life. Proteins are made up of three groups of amino acids and play a critical role in building and repairing bones, muscles, cartilage, and tissue.

In short, protein is vital. 

A lack of protein can lead to various consequences, such as hair loss, nail breakage, loss of muscle mass, weakened bones, and poor growth in children, to name a few. But keeping up with your protein intake can be difficult, especially for those who limit or abstain from meat. 

An excellent snack and great protein source are nuts. In addition to providing you with protein, many nuts contain healthy fats and serve as a convenient snack for an on-the-go lifestyle.

So, which nuts have the most protein and come with the best benefits? Let’s find out. 

Table of Contents

9 Protein-Filled Nuts

Which nuts have the most protein? If you’re in a rush, there’s no need to worry. Below is a quick glimpse at the nuts with the most protein, ranked from most to least. 

  1. Peanuts
  2. Almonds
  3. Pistachios
  4. Cashews
  5. Pine nuts
  6. Walnuts
  7. Hazelnuts
  8. Brazil Nuts
  9. Pecans
  10. Macadamia Nuts

To learn more about each of these nuts, including the exact protein content and what makes them healthy for you, continue reading below.

protien filled nuts

Peanuts

Peanuts are one of the most common nuts, even though they’re entirely unrelated to the family of tree nuts. These nuts grow in the ground, making them the exact opposite of the former group. 

Peanuts are a part of the legume family. If you’ve never heard that name before, the legume family includes lentils, soy, and beans. 

Of all the nuts on our list, peanuts have the highest amount of protein per quarter cup with about 7.3 grams. In addition to their high protein content, peanuts are also high in good fats. They make an excellent snack for low-carb diets, and their high fiber content can be beneficial for digestion. 

Another pro about peanuts is the impressive number of vitamins and minerals. Included in the lengthy list are:

  • Folate
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin E
  • Biotin
  • Niacin
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium

Peanuts are noted by experts as great for issues like heart disease, weight loss, and lowering cholesterol. 

On the flip side, peanuts are a common allergy for people to have. About 4.6 million people in the United States deal with this allergy, which can be deadly. 

Although peanuts have good fats that provide energy, their high-fat content can be harmful if consumed in excess. Processed peanuts can also contain significant amounts of sugar. So always enjoy your peanut butter in moderation.

Almonds

Like the peanut, the almond is another natural food parading as a nut, when, in fact, it comes from an entirely different category. Almonds are seeds that come from the almond tree. A quarter-cup of almonds contains 7 grams of protein. 

Almonds

Almonds closely follow peanuts in terms of protein, and they’ve put up quite the fight to share popularity with peanuts in recent years. Almonds are a quick and easy snack, and like peanuts, they’re often made into spreads called almond butter. 

These seeds have a high level of unsaturated fat, which can help improve blood cholesterol. They’re also full of vitamin E, fiber, and magnesium. The seed does an impressive job of providing a full feeling without the harmful fats and carbs, which makes them handy for weight loss

While almonds can help with weight loss, eating too many of them can make someone gain weight. It’s wise to monitor your serving size. Additionally, the oils found in almonds can cause acne breakouts for anyone with sensitive skin. 

Pistachios

Pistachio nuts come from the pistacia vera, a tree from Western Asia. Pistachios have been around for an incredibly long time, but modern advances have helped us better understand the benefits that these nuts provide.

Pistachios have about 6 grams of protein per quarter cup. Protein makes up about 20 percent of the weight of pistachio, and that percentage allows the nut to positively impact muscle growth, memory, energy, and more. 

Although bananas are known as the potassium fruit, pistachios are the unsung heroes of that category. Pistachios are packed with potassium. They also contain less fat than other nuts and plenty of:

  • Copper
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Fiber

PistachiosOne of the unique traits of pistachios is that they help promote healthy gut bacteria. The nut acts as a prebiotic, which is vital to the digestive process. 

Unfortunately, a lot of processed pistachios get served with additives and flavoring that can increase things like fat and salt content. Pistachios are also calorie dense, so eating more than the recommended serving can lead to weight gain

Some may also view the shells on pistachios as a con. They’re frequently sold in their half-cracked shells, which can make them slightly inconvenient to snack on. 

Cashews

The Brazil nut gets credit for the country, but cashews are also native to Brazil. The nut not only makes a great snack but comes with interesting medicinal properties. They’re known to contain certain chemicals that may fight off bacteria

Cashews are a good source of protein with 5 grams per quarter cup. But the oddly-shaped nuts aren’t safe for consumption. Raw cashews contain urushiol, which is also found in poison ivy and causes skin reactions.

But the cashews you buy in the store are cooked and processed to remove the toxin, making them safe and healthy. In addition to protein, cashew nuts contain healthy amounts of:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B
  • Thiamine
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Cashews

And there’s plenty more where that came from! Cashews are also low in sugar and high in unsaturated fats, which are effective at minimizing the risk of heart disease.

Similar to other processed nuts like pistachios, peanuts, and almonds, many brands of cashews sell them with additional seasonings and flavorings that can increase the nut’s natural sodium and fat contents. 

Cashews also contain phytates. Phytates can make it harder for your body to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. 

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts aren’t as popular as many of the other nuts on our list, but don’t miss out on all the health benefits this protein-packed snack offers. 

Pine nuts are very tiny seeds that come from various types of pine cones. The pine cones themselves aren’t very appealing, but their seeds are tasty and filled with tons of excellent stuff. 

Pine Nuts

A quarter-cup of pine nuts contains 4.5 grams of protein, giving this nut a middle seat on our list. Add to the protein iron, magnesium, and vitamin E, and you’ve got a fantastic recipe for energy and healthy skin

Because pine nuts offer a good balance of protein, fats, and fiber, they make a great addition to your diet. They can help keep your blood sugar levels in check and even support a healthy heart. Plus, the omega-3s in these little seeds can help repair and build brain cells. 

Despite the small size of pine nuts, they have a high-calorie count and should be eaten in moderation. Additionally, a small number of people may experience pine nut syndrome while eating these seeds. This syndrome causes people to have a bitter taste in their mouth that can last up to four weeks.

Walnuts 

The walnut is a well-known tree nut used widely in cooking and baking. It’s often added to Asian cuisine, chopped up in pies and bread, and used as a favorite topping on ice cream. What you may not have known is that the walnut is a high-protein nut with tons of antioxidants.

Walnuts contain 4.5 grams of protein per quarter cup. These tree nuts have more antioxidants than most other foods.

Walnuts also have a high amount of polyunsaturated fats. They’re rich in omega-6 and omega-3, which are great for heart health. You can also expect to get a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals from walnuts, including:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic acid
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Walnuts

Unfortunately, walnuts sit on the same list as peanuts as one of the most allergenic foods. Those with walnut allergies can face severe symptoms – even death – if they consume the tree nut.

Walnuts also contain phytic acid, which can put you at risk for mineral deficiencies when eaten in large amounts.

Hazelnuts

As the name suggests, hazelnuts grow on the hazel tree. This popular tree nut has a sweet flavor profile, which makes it a popular snack, a great dessert ingredient, and ideal for tasty spreads. 

One quarter-cup of hazelnuts contains 4.2 grams of protein, putting it just below walnuts on our protein-packed list. The nut is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good fats that give you plenty of energy and help reduce inflammation.

hazelnuts 

They also have a good amount of fiber, tons of antioxidants, and may even have anti-cancer properties. While results on the latter are inconclusive, they contain proanthocyanidins that might prevent and treat some cancers.

When eaten in proper serving sizes, hazelnuts are considered safe for most individuals. However, some people may be allergic to this tree nut and may have severe reactions to consuming them.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts get their name from the Brazil tree, which is native to South America. The large nuts contain 2.7 grams of protein per quarter cup, along with plenty of other beneficial substances. 

One of the most unique things about Brazil nuts is that they are one of the best sources of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that’s vital to your metabolism, immune health, and even reproduction. These benefits are due to Selenium’s impact on hormones

Brazil Nuts

Other nutrients found in Brazil nuts include:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium

Brazil nuts also contain plenty of healthy fats and dietary fiber, approving them for those at risk of heart, cholesterol, and digestive issues. These nuts may also have helpful anti-inflammatory properties that can help with various chronic conditions like kidney disease. 

Although the selenium in Brazil nuts is a helpful antioxidant, too much of it can cause selenium toxicity. Brazil nuts are also very calorie dense, so you should eat them in moderation to avoid any issues. 

Pecans

When we think of pecans, most of us picture a gorgeous pecan pie on Thanksgiving or a decadent sundae topped with chopped pecans. But pecans are more than just a dessert accessory. Their protein content alone makes them an excellent snack to add to your diet. 

Pecans contain about 2.6 grams of protein per quarter cup. They come from a type of hickory tree that grows both in the southern US and Mexico. In addition to the protein this nut provides, it also contains some healthy fats and a good amount of fiber. 

Pecans

Pecans are also loaded with fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, such as:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Potassium

They can be helpful across areas of diabetes management, digestion, heart disease, and weight loss. Pecans are great for regulating blood sugar and satisfying appetites, which can curb overeating and cravings. 

On the downside, those with any kind of tree nut allergy may also experience reactions to pecans. It’s best to avoid these nuts altogether or talk to your doctor before giving it a shot. 

Final Thoughts

So which nuts have the most protein? Peanuts and almonds top our list for the most protein-packed nut.

Before you give peanuts all the praise as the best high-protein nut out there, consider all of the nuts on our list. Each nut has a solid amount of protein per serving, and plenty of them contain other beneficial vitamins, minerals, and properties. 

Be sure to pay close attention to serving sizes and allergies to avoid running into any issues when snacking on these nuts. Pick a few to add to your diet today.

Research Resources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/peanuts#downsides

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/09/health/peanut-allergy-study-scn/index.html

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/prevention-and-treatment-of-high-cholesterol-hyperlipidemia/the-skinny-on-fats

https://veganliftz.com/is-peanut-butter-vegan/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/#:~:text=Potassium%20is%20an%20essential%20mineral,foods%20and%20as%20a%20supplement

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-10/cashew

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hazelnut-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/selenium/

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