Unless you have a nut allergy , you should probably be eating more of them. Dieticians and nutritionists everywhere are almost unanimous in extolling the virtues of the Mediterranean Diet, promoting fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses (like beans and lentils) whole grains and nuts, suggesting that these foods should be a regular part of your everyday diet, while limiting amounts of dairy and meat.
Many of us do go out of our way to ensure that we get enough fruit and vegetables in our quotidian meal plan, and foods high in whole grains are a relatively easy sell and buy- you can even drink your whole grains !
But we often overlook nuts when it comes to adding this delicious, readily available source of unsaturated fats, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and fibre to our diet.
Many of us know that nut oils are high in Omega 3s and vitamin E and purchase oils like walnut oil , which is great for salad dressings. Peanut oil, though technically peanuts are a legume, is another highly sough after nut oil; low in saturated fat but high in mono-and polyunsaturated fats it is a go-to oil when it comes to frying foods due to its high smoke point.
Up to 80% of nuts are fat. Even though it’s good fat, they are high in calories, as shown in this chart from the Mayo Clinic
|Type of nut||Calories per 1 oz||Total fat
|Almonds, dry-roasted||169||15 g (1.1 g/12.9 g)|
|Almonds, raw||163||14 g (1.1 g/12.2 g)|
|Brazil nuts, raw||186||19 g (4.3 g/12.8 g)|
|Cashews, dry-roasted||163||13.1 g (2.6 g/10 g)|
|Chestnuts, roasted||69||0.6 g (0.1 g/0.5 g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), dry-roasted||183||17.7 g (1.3 g/15.6 g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), raw||178||17 g (1.3 g/15.2 g)|
|Macadamia nuts, dry roasted||204||21.6 g (3.4 g/17.2 g)|
|Macadamia nuts, raw||204||21.5 g (3.4 g/17.1 g)|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||166||14 g (2g/11.4 g)|
|Pecans, dry roasted||201||21 g (1.8 g/18.3 g)|
|Pistachios, dry roasted||161||12.7 g (1.6 g/10.5 g)|
|Walnuts, halved||185||18.5 g (1.7 g/15.9 g)|
A nutrient dense high calorie count should be seen as a positive thing, as studies have shown that an ounce of nuts per day actually assists weight loss; raw or roasted nuts are high in protein and the energy they provide helps to fuel activity. These are not “empty extra calories” but high in nutrients and, and high in fibre as well, so help to give you a feeling of “fullness” and curbing your appetite a few hours later; they “stick to your ribs.”
A small handful, about one ounce or 24.5 g per day is recommended. Steer clear of nuts that are “honey roasted, ” or salted, or roasted in oil. You will be adding unwanted sugar, salt and unwanted fats to your diet.
Variety is the spice of life, and the same applies to nuts; a hand selected or store-made mix of nuts-peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts, brazil nuts… is more exciting to eat, and will provide a more well-rounded array of nutrients; fats, proteins, Omega-3s, vitamins E, C, and B complex vitamins, minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium and zinc, and plant sterols that are linked to lowering cholesterol, and L-arginine, linked to improving the health of artery walls and reducing risk of blood clots.
The next time you make a snack plate for dinner, throw on a handful of mixed nuts.
Not sure what kind you want? Check out this guy, he’s nuts for nuts!