Nuts and seeds are incredibly healthy and most of us aren’t eating enough of them. They are a great natural source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, flavonoids, and fiber. I’ve eaten tons of healthy nuts and seeds as part of my anti-cancer diet since January 2004 and I think you should too.
Depending on whose list you read, the number one healthiest nut is either the almond or the walnut, but there’s no way to really rank them. The “healthiest nut” is the one with the nutrients your body needs most on a given day. Of course, no one knows which one that is. So the best strategy is to eat a variety.
Here are the top healthiest nuts:
Almonds have as much calcium as milk and contain magnesium, vitamin E, selenium, and lots of fiber. They can lower cholesterol and help prevent cancer.
Walnuts are extremely good for your heart and brain and contain ellagic acid a cancer-fighting antioxidant.
Pecans have tons of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins E and A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, B vitamins, and zinc. And they help lower cholesterol.
Brazil Nuts are a good source of protein, copper, niacin, magnesium, fiber, vitamin E, and a great source of selenium.
Cedar Nuts/Pine Nuts have Vitamins A, B, D, E, and P and contain 70% of your body’s required amino acids.
Cashews are rich in minerals like copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, and biotin. They are actually lower-fat nuts, and like olive oil, they have a high concentration of oleic acid, which is good for your heart. According to Dr. Andrew Saul, one big handful of cashews provides 1000-2000 milligrams of tryptophan, which rivals the prescription antidepressant Prozac.
According to this peer-reviewed study, roasting almonds doubled the antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in almond skins, better than freeze-drying or oven-drying.
Here are the top healthiest seeds:
Flax seeds are definitely at the top of my list. Two tbsp of ground flax seed per day is ideal and easy to add to oatmeal or smoothies. Barleans Cold-Pressed Organic Flax Oil is a fantastic source of omega-3s and lignans, which are super antioxidants that help fight cancer. Flax is also a good source of prebiotic fiber and can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Chia Seeds are rich in omega-3 oils, protein, antioxidants, calcium, and fiber. Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!
Hemp seeds are a certified superfood with cancer and heart disease prevention properties. They are high in protein (10 grams in 3 tablespoons) and fiber, with balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Sunflower seeds also help prevent heart disease and cancer with phytochemicals, folate, Vitamin E, selenium, and copper.
Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are great for your immune system with lots of antioxidants (carotenoids), omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc.
Sesame Seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1, and phosphorus. They can lower blood pressure, and protect against liver damage. Sesame seeds have also been linked to the prevention of many diseases like arthritis, asthma, migraine headaches, menopause, and osteoporosis, and may even reduce PMS symptoms. Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste that’s a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes.
Finally, Apricot seeds (aka Apricot kernels), Apple seeds, and other bitter fruit seeds contain Amygdalin aka Vitamin B17 which has anticancer properties. The pharmaceutical Laetrile, which is a concentrated form of Amygdalin, has been used in cancer clinics outside the US for over 50 years. I dedicated an entire post to Apricot Kernels here.
Embrace Your Inner Hippie
I like to go to the bulk section of Whole Foods (where the big plastic bins of nuts are) and buy a couple of pounds of organic seeds and nuts. I take them home and mix them all together in a trail mix.
Eat them straight out of the bag, throw some in a bowl for the family, or toss them into a smoothie, into oatmeal, or on a salad. Either way, a couple of handfuls of trail mix every day will rock your body with super nutrients. So go ahead and embrace your inner hippie, throw on a pair of Birkenstocks with socks, dowse yourself in patchouli, and load up on some trail mix. I like to keep a bowl out for everyone to snack on at home, and a container in the car to snack on when I’m out and about.
I don’t buy fried, salted, honey-glazed, candied, or any other “special flavor” nuts. Frying nuts convert fats into an unhealthy form, and most seasonings are made from artificial flavors, chemicals, and preservatives, contain MSG, and are high in sodium. Organic raw or roasted nuts are best.
If you want to maximize the nutrients you get from nuts, you can soak them in distilled or purified water overnight. This helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors that may affect digestion and absorption of the nutrients in seeds and nuts. It can also help reduce the number of pesticides on them if they are not organically grown.
Simple Soaking Directions: Place 4 cups of nuts in a bowl with enough distilled water to cover the nuts completely. Add a tablespoon of Celtic sea salt. This helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors. Different seeds and nuts have different soaking times, but the easiest rule of thumb to remember is to let them soak for 7 hours (overnight). You may or may not like the taste of soggy nuts, so you’ll need to dehydrate them in a dehydrator or oven for 12-24 hours. If you do it in the oven, keep the temperature under 150 degrees and shift them around on the pan occasionally.
Every oven is different so it might take some experimentation to get the ideal drying time figured out. And because this is essentially a 24-hour process it makes sense to do several big batches at a time. Afterward, compare the flavor of the soaked and dried nuts versus the non-soaked nuts. You might be surprised to find they taste better, depending on the nut and your taste.
One exception: Cashews should soak 6 hours or less and need to dry out quickly at 200-250 degrees or they can get funky.
The Excalibur Dehydrator is the dehydrator that most health gurus use and recommend.
Having said all that, I haven’t soaked nuts in years. It’s too much trouble. :)
Here’s a shopping list :
The rest of the seeds I mentioned above don’t work well in trail mix because they are too small and all end up at the bottom.
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This Post Has 36 Comments
Birks with socks, Boulder style. Nice. :) Our almond butter turned out great, by the way. Made it with coconut oil, a bit of organic sugar, and some celtic sea salt. It was gone way too fast. Think I might mix in some cashews and sesame seeds next time…Never thought to do that before but I guess it’s a good and easy way to incorporate more nuts and seeds?
That sounds great!
Try VEGA brand Sacha Inchi seed (Says Savi seed on the pkt)6 grams of Omega 3 and 9 Grams of protein per serving. The packet says 17 times more Omega 3 than wild sockeye salmon. I love these on my Giant Salad. Whole foods and iherb.com both carry them.
Man I am sad to hear about the peanut. It’s my favorite nut. I tried the Almond Butter and cannot stand it. I like raw almonds but didnt like the butter. I will give cashew butter a whirl.
The salads are getting even beter …
I used to eat large quantities of peanuts daily and have stopped abruptly (put those left in the garage while I work out what to do with them) once I had the surgery for cancer.
I have been having about 10 Brazil Nuts per day for their selenium but realise that they have even more Omega 6. Sunflower seeds also have very high Omega 6 and sunflower oil has been banned from our cooking because of it.
Do you have any comment about nuts and Omega 6?
Also, do you have any comments about consuming dried fruits?
I believe the nuts in my post are generally healthy, but there is some research regarding arachidonic acid and L-Methionine,
acids found in nuts, that could feed certain types of cancer cells.
If you have cancer you may have to get super hardcore and avoid all nuts to be on the safe side.
I did for a time.
We only cook with olive and coconut oil.
I eat dried figs sometimes, that’s about it as far as dried fruits go.
For Omega 3 Oil I use “Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Blend”. Udo Erasmus, PhD is a fatty acid expert.
He wrote a book called “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill”. (I’ll probably write more about this topic at some point)
You can add it your salad or just down a spoonful. Very easy to swallow.
Strongly Recommended Reading:
God’s Way To Ultimate Health
Natural Strategies For Cancer Patients
Patient Heal Thyself
There Are No Incurable Diseases
I have always been a fan of nuts and have always gravitated towards the top 6 you listed. I just haven’t acquired a taste for Almond Butter yet. I want to like it but alas, it’s a no. I’ll keep trying, really!
Do have any good recipes for granola? I really like it and I’ve used the Bare Naked brand. Any words of wisdom on that one? I’m almost afraid to ask. I always put yogurt and fresh fruit in the mix.
You might like sunflower seed butter…
I like it, and my friend jp likes it better than almond butter.
I really don’t eat granola, so I can’t help you there.
I’ve never heard of cedar nuts; are they the same as pine nuts ? Thanks.
Yes they are!
Thanks Chris ! While I was waiting for your answer (and realizing that I’m perfectly capable of finding out for myself – sorry to bother you !), I did a little research. It seems that cedar nuts from the Russian taiga are the “ultimate” in pine nuts but “plain old ordinary” pine nuts are also very nutritious – not to mention delicious !
Hey Chris! I am excited to learn more about your story. I just sent you an email and hope you will be willing to submit your success story to my blog. You will inspire MILLIONS around the world!
You say you eat lots of nuts. I LOVE this. Why? Most people in the primal community limit their nut consumption. This is because they are high in phytic acid and omega 6 fatty acids.
You said you do not consume peanuts because they are a legume and contain a lot of omega 6 fatty acids. Did you know that MOST nuts contain more omega 6 compared to peanuts?
I am simply curious about your thoughts on this. I am extremely open minded nowdays and can maybe learn something that I did not know before.
Keep the great blog!! I’ll be adding it to my google reader.
Hey Todd, well “in a nutshell” I believe that seeds and nuts were put on this planet for human consumption. They have a lot of bioavailable vitamins, minerals, protein and fat and I believe that their benefits outweigh their “risks”. They are a ready-to-eat food like fruits and veggies and they require no processing before consumption like many grains.
The doctor of natural medicine I was working with when I had cancer advised that I increase my nut consumption so I did!
As I mention in the post, soaking reduces phytic acid and for someone who is sick this is advised.
Hi Chris, you are such an inspiration to me! I love how you really describe why some things are good or bad for you, keep it up! Where do you find all the information about the different foods and nuts? I really enjoy you blog and I’m so happy for you, stay well, Emma
As you get into more of Brian Peskin’s research you will find omega 6 is far more important than omega 3. Aldulterated omega 6 is the program. Omega 6 is in 100s of items but it is all ruined…I also take a mixure of omega 6/3 in a 2 to 1 ratio in flavor of omega 6. But it must be cold pressed and organic…The Hidden Story Of Cancer by Brian Peskin… I had colon cancer and do not go to the extreme as Chris on some things. I had stage 3 also,but did about 8 chemo treatment and after that I have become educated…Anyway his web site is
Awesome data on the seeds, one note to mention as far as the drying, research has shown it is best to dry seeds or cook food nor more than at the 110 degree it might be slight higher, this avoids loosing the nutrition part of it, more like the raw food macro diet. Also; would you know about soaking the flax seeds? I have tried to research the oil/slimmy film that arises on top of the soak flax seeds, it is kept some what a secret, it is not the linseed oil, anyway; I wanted to know it was ok to eat, and or is this part of the flax seed oil? I have been grinding it up and using as body oil, rather than drink that oil, there are many uses of seeds and nuts, goes back centuries-do you have any resources on that topic? A wonderful blog you have and thank you for sharing to others-
I did the same thing but carried it a step or two further. I have Stage 4. Diagnosed almost 2 yrs ago. I LIKE YOUR IDEA, it makes me feel that mine (quite similar) may actually save my life. (though I wont know for a long time). I am trying to think of various complements but they pale before what you have (and I am going) gone through. My best wishes and thanks
ps take a look at my PCa Fighting Trail Mix Recipe. psps. take a second thought about peanuts, they have a very high resveratrol content.
Where do you buy brazil nuts ?
Hello Chris – do you know if Wholefoods sell apricots seeds
Mine doesn’t, call your local store and ask
Hi Chris, I want to ask if you soak and dehydrate all the nuts that you consume?
Or you just eat them as they are straight from the store?
No I don’t soak and dehydrate nuts. :)
Hi! I am confused about the cashew, it can prevent cancer, but if you have cancer don’t eat them because of the fungus? My husband has stage 4 lung cancer…csn they be defungused, yes know that is not a word! Help we are doing traditional and diet!! So if I don’t cancer why is okay to eat cashews…I could have cancer that are just waiting for me to feed them..! Thanks
I like cashews, but you might want to avoid them to be on the safe side
Thank you for sharing the soaking and dehydrating techniques. Without soaking, They used to made me gassy and gave me acne. Now, I can really enjoy a handful of them.
I also toss in some turmeric power before dehydration to mimic my favorite roasted turmeric pumpkin seeds at the store.
The recommendation to snack on nuts and seeds is not a good one.
Nuts and seeds should accompany your meal and be the fat that substitutes for any refined oil. Some vitamins need to be accompanied by fats and refined oils like olive or any other are not nearly as good as that within natural foods like nuts and seeds.
hi mr.chris i saw one of dr.oz show talking about super food with dr.william lee that roasted nuts is more healther than raw because it has 20% more antioxidant so what do you think about that?
Superb!!!!!!! yummy breakfast….
I was eating almonds for some time. I was eating quite a lot of almonds everyday, and I saw that they caused me stomach ache.
Then I read that bitter almonds contain small amounts of cyanhydric acid, which is basically a poison. I thought that commercial (sweet) almonds don’t have it, but it turns out that I stopped eating almonds and the pain immediately and completely disappeared…
So I don’t know. Be careful with almonds and make sure that they are totally devoid of toxic substances.
I love your blog on nuts. I eat nuts everytime I can. I hope I can cure my stage 4 cancer.
Hey Chris! Thanks for all of your wonderful information. I hadn’t looked at this list until today and was happy that I already include a lot of these delicious nuts and seeds in my diet. Yay!
(In fact some chia seed crackers are in the oven at 150 right now, I burned my first attempt at them horribly.)
Anyway, I wanted to ask if you have a different favorite snack bar since they discontinued the Nutiva hempseep bars. Forgive me if you’ve already answered the question!
Thanks for the helpful tips! Is it really takes that long to dry nuts in the oven..12 to 24 straight? How long does it take to dry them out by itself ?
Chris, I’m new to the site! Your story is very inspirational. I’m sure you already know this, and you might’ve posted something elsewhere, but the Nutiva HempseedBar has been discontinued. Bums me out cause I never got to try it! Can you recommend another good bar that’s similar?
thanks for the info
Wait, no macadamias?
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