Which Nuts Are Highest in Protein [CHART]

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Even though meat might be the most protein-rich food, there are many other good protein sources that can get you enough to be healthy and even build muscle.

Nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of protein, only really behind seeds and legumes.

Note that all the data on this page is per 100 gram serving of each nut that we look at.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

In order to put the amount of protein in nuts into context, you’ll need to have a target of protein to try and hit.

Most people overestimate the amount of protein they need.

In general:

  • Sedentary people need at least 1.2 g/kg (or 0.55g/lb) of protein
  • Experienced weight lifters need about 1.8 g/kg

For someone who is 60kg (132 lb), they only need 72-110 grams of protein per day, which really isn’t that much.

Protein Content of Different Nuts

The table below is the main thing that you’re probably here for.

I’ve collected the amount of protein per 100 grams of several common nuts. I’ve also included the amount of calories just for reference.

  Energy (kcal) Protein (g)
Peanuts 567.1 25.8
Almonds 579.6 21.1
Pistachio nuts 559.3 20.2
Cashews 573.7 15.3
Walnuts 654.7 15.2
Hazelnut 628.1 14.9
Brazil nut 658.6 14.3
Pecans 690.9 9.2
Macadamia nut 717.9 7.9

It was surprising to me how big the range is between the “best’ and “worst” nuts in terms of protein content.

Which Nut Has the Most Protein?

high fat nuts

While not technically a nut, peanuts have the highest amount of protein of what most people consider common nuts with about 26 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.

Almonds and pistachios both have just over 20 grams of protein per serving. Finally, most other nuts have about 15 grams, which includes cashews and walnuts.

Which Nuts Are Lowest in Protein?

Macadamia nuts and pecans are by far the lowest in protein of all common nuts. Both have under 10 grams of protein per 100 gram serving and about 700 calories, which isn’t a particularly good ratio.

Are Nuts a Good Protein Source Compared to Other Plants?

In terms of protein content per 100 grams, nuts are among the best vegan sources of protein, only behind certain seeds and specific foods like vital wheat gluten.

However, in terms of protein per 100 calories, nuts aren’t a particularly good protein source. Instead, vegetables and legumes are much better in this respect.

SUMMARY

So overall, it makes sense to get some protein from nuts, but you’d probably get way too many calories if you’re trying to get most of your protein from nuts.

Do Nuts Have Complete Protein?

The importance of complete proteins is blown out of proportion, but I still wanted to take a quick look at the essential amino acid profiles of nuts.

servings to reach rda of amino acids in nuts

The biggest things that stand out are:

  • Peanuts have a fairly strong overall amino acid profile and are arguably a complete protein
  • Most other nuts are low in methionine and lysine

As long as you’re getting these essential amino acids from other foods throughout the day, it shouldn’t have a significant effect on muscle synthesis.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.