The Health Benefits of Walnuts, Almonds & Pistachios

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Healthy Nuts

Growing up I wouldn’t eat anything that had nuts as an ingredient. I’d still have to say that for the most part I’m a chocolate chip cookie purist; I don’t appreciate a nut interrupting the goodness of these cookies, or anything else sweet for that matter. As a general rule I didn’t used to like nuts at all.

It was a big surprise to my parents, many years later, when I began to eat them on a daily basis. I was never swayed by taste or texture, but what got me interested in eating more nuts was a diagnosis of infertility.

Healthy Nuts for the Holidays

Are nuts part of your holiday tradition? In both my family and that of my husband, it was typical to find a bag of nuts on the table with a nut cracker this time of year. It was a self-serve snack from Thanksgiving through Christmas. We have carried on this tradition in our home, but now we tend to give away healthy nuts that are pre-shelled and seasoned – either sweet or spicy.

Black Walnuts

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) – Here in Ohio, the black walnut is relatively common. I love the smell of their hulls in the fall, it takes me back to my childhood. We had family friends that would drive over them repeatedly to remove these green hulls.

Black walnut hull is an important anti-fungal. It’s one of my favorite things to use for athlete’s foot! The nut itself is high in Vitamin C and is one of the best plant-based sources for omega-3 fatty acids. I used the nuts as a super food for fertility and continue to recommend its use for prospective parents today.


Almond (Prunus dulcis) – In ancient times, the almond was believed to be able to prevent drunkenness; a great reason to perhaps have marzipan at your next holiday party. The almond likes to grow in warmer regions of the world, though I have an almond tree here in Ohio that has been cultivated as a hardy variety. I have harvested exactly one nut from my tree so far and look forward to more!

Almonds contain almost no starch and are often ground into a safe flour for diabetics. The oils found in almonds make them very soothing to mucous membranes on the whole and this helps both internally and externally. When blanched they are known to be very helpful for the digestion, often giving relief for acid indigestion with only about 8 nuts.

(Love almonds? Matt & Betsy recommend checking out this Cinnamon Roasted Almonds recipe!)


Pistachio (Pistacia vera) – These are great raw or made into another childhood favorite – pistachio pudding! This pungent little nut is incredibly valuable to our health. It contains the compounds lutein and zeaxanthin which have been found to benefit eye health. They are also high in Vitamin B6 which protects our immune system, keeps our nervous system operating properly, and maintains a healthy blood supply. There have been numerous studies on the pistachio suggesting that they are helpful in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation.

Holiday Cinnamon Walnuts



  1. Preheat oven to 225° F.
  2. In a bowl, stir to combine the cinnamon, sugar, salt, and ginger.
  3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until frothy but not stiff.
  4. In small batches toss the walnuts, first in the egg whites, then in the cinnamon mix.
  5. Place finished nuts on a baking sheet and toast until crunchy, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely. They will keep for about 3 months–if they last that long!

Are nuts part of your holiday tradition?

Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share?


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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  1. Jennifer A says

    Actually I believe I just found it, in your recipe for candy cane bath crystals it calls for red food coloring.

    • Dawn says

      Hmm… I’ve tried in the fridge in a ziplock. They last for a few days. I’ve never tried freezing them so I don’t know if the volatile oils would be as strong but that’s worth a try. The other way is to put the zest into a medium and freeze that… you could zest into your favorite cooking oil, mix the zest with butter… I think I have some experimenting to do!

  2. Terry says

    I’ve heard of another benefit of Black Walnuts. More of a medicinal nature. If you soak them in alcohol and make a tincture of them, it’s useful in killing parasites in your body. Please Google for instructions if interested before trying this though. For instance, you’re not to drink the tincture but add a few drops to water, and you need to soak the walnuts for a certain length of time for it to be beneficial, as well as other pertinent information.

    • Dawn says

      I absolutely wouldn’t…. ever….. where did you see that I did? I re-read my post for any mistakes, so if you see something I don’t please let me know so it can be corrected!

      • Kathy T says

        In the article for the Gummy Bears recipe…there is a reference to “haribo ” listing the following in their gummy bears” it is a small paragraph in the middle of the article and that Haribo gummy bears have red dye, among other unnatural ingredients. and I think that is where Clare got the idea of red dye on DIY Natural web site.

    • Kathy T says

      clare…I apologize if my words sound mean but if you had read the article, she was saying that “haribo gummy bears have the following ingredients” and that among them is the red dye—-DIY Natural is not promoting the use of red dye–in fact, just the opposite. Using natural foods’ colors for natural coloring. Hope this helps where the “red” dye wording came into the article. Blessings and smile—it makes people wonder what you’re thinking :0}