Nuts and Seeds: Nutrition Guide and Recipe Collection

Discover the health benefits of nuts and seeds with our handy nutrition primer, expert prep tips, and 50+ recipes to add to your menu rotation.
Published May 6, 2017

Great news, PB&J lovers: Nuts, seeds, and the fabulous butters made from them are packed with nutritious goodness that can support your wellness journey, WeightWatchers® Science Team says. These foods not only provide heart-healthy fats; each little bite offers a pop of plant-based protein. Some—including almonds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds—even deliver a dose of fiber. To help you learn more about the health benefits of nuts and seeds, we offer the following non-exhaustive guide to some WW member faves, along with more than 50 (!) nut and seed recipes to add to your menu.

Tips for enjoying nuts and seeds

  • Shopping for nuts and seeds: When grocery shopping, look for nuts without blemishes or discoloration. If they're in shells, give ’em a shake and skip any that rattle, which could mean the nuts have dried out and lost their flavor. Many supermarkets stock a variety of nuts, seeds, and nut butters, and some products may contain added oils, salt, or sugar. Try using the barcode scanner in the WW app to compare choices and determine which make sense for your preferences and Budget.
  • Storing nuts and seeds: These foods tend to keep best in cool, dark, dry conditions—heat, sunlight, and moisture can turn their oils rancid more quickly. Try stashing nuts and seeds in an airtight container in your fridge or freezer, and they’ll likely keep for at least a few months.
  • Toasting nuts and seeds: Toasting nuts and seeds for 5–10 minutes deepens their flavor and creates a satisfying crunch. Two ways to do it: Spread nuts or seeds in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast in the center rack of an oven at 350°F. Or, heat a dry skillet over medium heat, add nuts or seeds in a single layer, and toast, tossing regularly, until fragrant and golden.
  • Snacking on nuts and seeds: Since many varieties are energy-dense in addition to being delicious, you may wish to pre-portion one serving at a time rather than munching absentmindedly. Trust us: A bowl of cashews can disappear quickly.
  • Using nut oils: Extracted from walnuts, almonds, and other nuts, nut oils are great for imparting complex flavor to recipes. Note that some, such as walnut oil, have a low smoke point and may not be ideal for stovetop cooking. Try incorporating nut oils in baked goods, whisking them into dressings, and buzzing them with fresh herbs in a homemade pesto. Or, just drizzle straight onto a finished dish like pizza. Mmm.

Nutrition guide to nuts and seeds

No nut or seed is inherently better than another—each has a unique nutrient profile that can support your wellbeing. Learn more about some WW member favorites below.

Sunflower seed
Enjoy these delicious seeds dried or roasted, seasoned or plain. Unless you buy sunflower seeds pre-shelled, plan to have fun spitting out their fibrous, striped hulls as you munch away. (Hey, there’s a reason they’re a ballpark fave.)

  • Good source of: protein, fiber, zinc, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate
  • Excellent source of: phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamin E

    While a major percentage of the world’s almond supply goes to chocolate makers, this nut—which has been cultivated for centuries—is a well-established star in chicken dishes and other savory contexts. And in more recent years, almond butter has blown up to become a nearly billion-dollar market.

    • Good source of: protein, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus
    • Excellent source of: copper, manganese, riboflavin, vitamin E

    Weird/cool fact: Cashews come from the same plant family as poison ivy. Indeed, cashew shells contain the same irritant as the rash-inducing plant, so commercial harvesting and packaging requires extreme care. Fans agree: Rich and buttery, cashews are worth the trouble.

    • Good source of: protein, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, thiamin
    • Excellent source of: magnesium, copper, manganese

    Also known as a filbert, this nut is a classic foil for chocolate in dessert recipes. As you’ll discover in the recipes below, however, hazelnuts pair surprisingly well with green veggies like Brussels sprouts, too. We love a versatile nut.

    • Good source of: magnesium, thiamin
    • Excellent source of: copper, manganese, vitamin E

    Though treated as a culinary nut, the peanut is a rogue legume in this list—it grows in a pod. (If you’ve ever eaten a raw peanut, you have may noticed it tasted more “pea” than “nut.”) Whatever their category, peanuts are a favorite addition to everything from cookies to salads.

    • Good source of: protein, magnesium, zinc, thiamin, folate, vitamin E
    • Excellent source of: copper, niacin, manganese

    There’s a reason pecans are a staple in fall holiday menus: Though available year-round nowadays, autumn is peak season for this native North American nut. Pecans are part of the hickory family and have a slightly sweet, buttery nutmeat that’s perfect in pies.

    • Good source of: zinc, thiamin, fiber
    • Excellent source of: copper and manganese

    Most walnuts in the U.S. are grown in California and sold in a standard size roughly equivalent to a ping-pong ball. But walnuts come in many varieties, including some with very thin shells and others that are larger or teeny-tiny

    • Good source of: magnesium
    • Excellent source of: copper, manganese, omega-3 ALA

    Pine nut
    These nuts are actually seeds—of pine trees! Pine nuts tend to be pricey, a reflection of a laborious harvesting process that generally involves hand-separating the seeds from pine cones. Also called pignoli, pine nuts are a foundational ingredient in many pesto recipes.

    • Good source of: magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin E
    • Excellent source of: copper, manganese

    Once you pry past their hard, beige shells, you’ll find these nuts have a delicate flavor that’s prized in cuisines the world over. Antioxidant plant compounds help create pistachios’ unique green and purple hues.

    • Good source of: protein, fiber, phosphorus, manganese
    • Excellent source of: copper, thiamin, vitamin B6

    Pumpkin seed
    Also called pepitas, these seeds are a go-to ingredient in Mexican cuisine and work well in sweet and savory dishes alike. They’re delicious as a standalone snack; try them roasted and lightly salted. You can eat them with or without the shells.

    • Good source of: protein, iron
    • Excellent source of: magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper

    Sesame seed
    Tiny sesame seeds can do so much more than dot a hamburger bun. Grown in colors ranging from ivory to black, they’re delicious as a salad topper or a finishing touch for noodle dishes. When ground into a paste called tahini, sesame seeds are a key ingredient in traditional hummus. Sesame oil is a mainstay of Chinese cooking.

    • Excellent source of: copper

    56 nut and seed recipes for every meal of the day


    This article was reviewed for accuracy in July 2021 by Angela Goscilo, MS, RD, CDN, manager of nutrition. The WW Science Team is a dedicated group of experts who ensure all our solutions are rooted in the best possible research.