What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it's still a lot of calories. That's why you should eat nuts in moderation. Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products.

Instead of eating foods with unhealthy saturated fats, try substituting a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut spread. The American Heart Association recommends eating about four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Select raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than those cooked in oil.

A serving is a small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won't do your heart any good.

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

The type of nuts you choose to eat probably doesn't matter much. Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. For example, walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. And peanuts — which are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be relatively healthy.

Keep in mind, you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they're covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.

Here's some nutrition information on common types of nuts. All calorie and fat content measurements are for 1 ounce, or 28.4 grams (g), of unsalted nuts.

Type of nut Calories Total fat
Almonds, dry-roasted 170 14.9 g
Almonds, raw 164 14.2 g
Brazil nuts, raw 187 19 g
Cashews, dry-roasted 163 13.1 g
Chestnuts, roasted 69 0.6 g
Hazelnuts (filberts), dry-roasted 183 17.7 g
Hazelnuts (filberts), raw 178 17.2 g
Macadamia nuts, dry-roasted 204 21.6 g
Macadamia nuts, raw 204 21.5 g
Peanuts, dry-roasted 166 14.1 g
Pecans, dry-roasted 201 21.1 g
Pistachios, dry-roasted 162 13 g
Walnuts, halved 185 18.5 g

How about nut oils? Are they healthy, too?

Nut oils are also a good source of healthy nutrients, but they lack the fiber found in whole nuts. Walnut oil is the highest in omega-3s.

Consider using nut oils in homemade salad dressing or in cooking. When cooking with nut oils, remember that they respond differently to heat than do vegetable oils.

Nut oil, if overheated, can become bitter. Just like with nuts, use nut oil in moderation, as the oils are high in fat and calories.

Sept. 15, 2016 See more In-depth