A superb strike from winger Kazenga LuaLua five minutes after the interval was enough to give Hughton’s men maximum points at the Amex Stadium.
Former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss Hughton described LuaLua as a “winner” and felt his team were good for all three points.
He said: “It is a nice way in which to start the season. It was a typical Championship game, being fairly tight, but we deserved to win it.
“Kazenga is a winner and had a good all-round game. You want to see that from your wide players.
“I am happy with the performance in general. Forest are a good side, with pace in wide areas.
“They may have players out injured now, but with that 11 I can see them winning a lot of games this season.”
Brighton have re-signed veteran striker Bobby Zamora but the 34-year-old was unable to make the bench for the match and Hughton said he is still some way off match fitness.
“We don’t know when Bobby will be fit,” Hughton added. “He’s trained three times but it’ll be irresponsible of us to put him in too early.”
Forest boss Dougie Freedman revealed afterwards that Robert Tesche, injured in a challenge with Israeli international midfielder Beram Kayal, has a suspected broken foot.
Freedman did not condemn the challenge but felt that Brighton were over-physical when Forest were counter-attacking, as they were often stopped by fouls.
Freedman said: “Unfortunately Robert has broken his foot and it’s a big blow. It’s the last thing we need right now but it’ll give opportunities to others.
“I felt we were unfortunate to come in at half-time 0-0 but our concentration let us down soon after the break. After that our response was fantastic.
“We worked their keeper and on another night we would have got something out of the game. We went down to a sucker punch and it’s important for us to stay focused now.
“It was disappointing that we lost concentration when Brighton scored, but after that we had a real good go.”