The perfect healthy snack, a humble handful of nuts is both convenient and filling, not to mention delicious. There is a huge range to choose from, and each has something different to offer your overall health.

Whether you’re adding them into a Waldorf salad or just munching on some raw, nuts have a great abundance of nutrients crucial for a vegan or vegetarian diet. They are included as part of the middle tier of Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Pyramid, recommended for moderate consumption as a source of protein.

Here we take a look at what adding some nuts to your day can do for you.

Almonds 

This slightly sweet nut has been featuring in our diets for thousands of years. But not only is it tasty, it is also hailed as having a raft of different nutrients that can benefit health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

Dietician with the Almond Board of California Jenny Heap explains to Live Science almonds have more fibre, niacin, vitamin E and calcium than other tree nuts.

The unique nutrient combination of almonds – plant-based protein, fibre and monounsaturated fats, plus key nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium – help make them a heart-healthy snack,” she says.

Fibre is key in supporting a healthy digestive system, also playing a role in weight management, according to the Victoria government’s Better Health Channel. Niacin, as a water-soluble vitamin, cannot be stored in the body, meaning that we need to consume foods with the nutrient for the benefits it can provide.

Dietitians of Canada notes that niacin plays a key role in the body’s processing of protein, carbohydrates and fat, allowing us to use them for energy.

Almonds can be added to just about anything.
Almonds can be added to just about anything to make a healthy, tasty snack.

Walnuts 

Packing a variety of different benefits, walnuts are another fantastic addition to any diet, vegan or otherwise. It is a good source of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, a type of omega-3 that is found in certain plants with anti-inflammatory properties.

California Walnuts states that in one ounce (approximately 28 grams), you’ll find 2.5 grams of ALA, making the walnut the only nut with significant ALA content.

The nuts, which bear a striking resemblance to a human brain, could also be key in helping to fight off degenerative disease, as suggested by findings published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study, conducted on mice subjects, revealed a potential link between the nut and prevention of brain degeneration seen in the cognitive disease, potentially due to walnuts’ high levels of anti-oxidants.

“These findings are very promising and help lay the groundwork for future human studies on walnuts and Alzheimer’s disease – a disease for which there is no known cure,” said Dr Abha Chauhan from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

“Our study adds to the growing body of research that demonstrates the protective effects of walnuts on cognitive functioning.”

Pistachios 

These small green-brown nuts are both delicious and nutritious, presenting a raft of health benefits, particularly in helping to control cholesterol and fighting heart disease. They make for a fantastic healthy snack to satiate your hunger throughout the day, as they not only contain fibre, but protein and good fats, according to American Pistachio Growers (APG).

Pistachios are also relatively low in calories and carbohydrates, helping in weight management, and have been linked to maintaining good blood glucose levels, as reported by APG.

Research by the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) has also found that when consumed by high-cholesterol adults as part of a balanced diet, pistachios helped to boost antioxidant levels in the blood.

PSU notes that, when oxidised, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) can cause inflammation inside blood vessel walls, leading to a build up the plaque that is a precursor to heart disease. Ergo, foods that increase antioxidants such as pistachios could help to prevent this oxidation taking place.