Why You Should Be Eating Nuts

By Mike Howard

Health of NutsNuts are tasty, loaded with good fat, protein, fiber, nutrients and phytochemicals that are heart healthy and potentially good for the waistline.

Barring allergies, there aren’t many reasons not to include nuts in your diet.

Let’s take a look at some interesting nut studies, tips and tidbits about nuts.

Nuts and Heart Health

  • A study of 31000 Seventh Day Adventists that ate nuts more than 4 times per week were half as likely to die of a heart attack than those who ate nuts less than once a week.
  • The Iowa Women’s Health Study came to a similar conclusion: Women who ate nuts or seeds 4 times per week were 40% less likely to die from heart disease than similar women who didn’t eat nuts.
  • The Nurses’ Health Study showed that those who ate at least 140g/week of nuts were 35% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who ate less than 30g/month.

Nuts and Weight

Most studies have shown that adding nuts to the diet does not cause people to gain much weight, if any at all.

As an example, researchers gave participants 45-70g of almonds every day (320 calories worth) and gave them no further instructions about food intake. After 6 months, participants gained a very miniscule amount of weight (.2 lbs in women, 1.4 lbs in men). This study was funded by the almond industry.

There aren’t many studies that show nut consumption to help people lose weight, but one study showed that a low calorie diet that included almonds led to greater weight loss than an equal calorie diet that did not include almonds.

The Seventh Day Adventist and Nurses Health Study showed that those who regularly ate nuts weighed less than those who did not.

The Best Nuts to Eat

Are some nuts better than others when it comes to health benefits?

All nuts contain good fats, fiber and proteins, but different kinds of nuts have different nutrient profiles.

  • Almonds are richest in vitamin E (35% recommended daily intake) and calcium (8%) per 1 oz. (30g) serving.
  • Brazil nuts are highest in selenium with just 1 supplying a days worth.
  • Cashews are richest in copper and zinc
  • Peanuts (technically a legume) contain the antioxidant resveratrol, and are highest in protein and arginine content
  • Walnuts have the most alpha linolenic acids (plant-based omega-3’s)

How Much is too Much?

Nuts are healthy but are a dense source of calories. 1oz/30g of nuts supply about 170-180 calories.

Here is a chart that shows how many nuts are in 30g.

Number of Nuts in 30 grams (1oz)
Almonds: 20-24
Brazil nuts: 6-8
Pecans: 18-20 (halves)
Cashews: 16-18
Pine Nuts: 150-157
Pistachios: 45-47
Walnuts: 8-11
Hazelnuts: 18-20

7 Ways to Eat More

  1. Eat a handful, not a jarful or bowlful.
  2. Enjoy them as a mid-day snack to help curb your appetite.
  3. Sprinkle them on stirfry’s, salads, soups and casseroles
  4. Enjoy a variety of different kinds of nuts
  5. Make them the base of a personalized trail mix – add seeds, raisins and other dried fruit
  6. Try nut butters like almond and cashew as an alternative to peanut butter (get brands that are only nuts)
  7. Try nut oils to add to dressings or cook with such as; walnut, almond or peanut oil

I think there are many good reasons to include nuts in your diet. To fully reap the benefits of fat loss, consume them instead of, rather than in addition to less nutritious foods.

Sources:

  1. Archives of Internal Medicine, 152; 1416, 1992
  2. New England Journal of Medicine. 334; 1156, 1996
  3. British Medical Journal. 317; 1341, 1998
  4. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 21; 275, 2002
  5. Nutrition Dimensions: Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Walnuts
Filed in Snacks,

50 Comments

  1. Eniko Major

    Any suggestion for cheap quality big quantity sources brands in France? (Nantes) I love crushing the shell! To work for it makes taste better and I believe cheaper. I like them naturally bu wouldnt mind to try products, any suggestion for this one too?
    thanks

    Reply
  2. kayleah

    I am a nut freek to that is why im on this site

    Reply
  3. Brendan

    I live in Vietnam and eat lotus seed nuts daily. Lotus seed nuts are also supposed to contain great nutritional value and the locals believe that eating a handful of them in the evening helps people to sleep better.
    Thanks

    Reply
  4. Liam Edwards

    Hi everyone! I love almonds but have worn down molars and don’t want to crunch away, is putting the almonds in a blender and eating the dust just as effective.? I’ve done it a number of times but i don’t feel like its doing anything when i do. As apposed to eating almonds whole i almost feel the fats and protein going to my arms πŸ˜›

    Reply
    • Nick

      Grinding up Almonds in a blender will result in a higher probability of absorbing the nutrients, once you eat the grindings. So yes, the almond “dust” will be just as effective as eating them whole, but, probably better, since they will be ground into dust, making the almonds easier to digest.
      You will not “feel” health effects of eating nuts, like almonds, until you eat them for a number of months, every single day, without fail. After a few years of eating these nuts every single day, you will then “feel” a very distinct improvement to your health in numerous ways, from your blood pressure, and cholesteral level being much, much lower, to your body feeling more energetic, to your sleep feeling much more relaxing. Many benefits go to those who eat nuts every day.
      It is not possible to “feel” the fats and proteins ‘going to your arms’. This is not a valid situation, as eating nuts will NOT cause weight gain, no matter how much you eat them. I have been eating nuts for over 15 years now, every day, and I eat a LOT of them, and my weight is the same (within a couple of pounds) as it was 15 years ago. My weight remains very consistent, between 182~186lbs, and I am a 6′ tall man.
      I am telling you from experience, that eating lots and lots of nuts will most certainly keep you healthy, and give you energy, and if you are gaining weight, it’s from junk food or something else, but not the nuts. For some reason, nuts just don’t seem to cause weight gain, even if you eat a ton of them daily.

      Reply
      • Deb 2 weeks ago

        I watched results of studies paraphrased by Dr. Greger at NutritionFacts.org, which said that you can eat enough extra nuts, where the calories should cause you to gain 10 pounds, but you will gain less than a pound and that has started me adding more in.

        My problem is that I am also trying to go off of dairy and I am ending up eating a handful of almonds, drinking coffee and tea with almond milk, eating a handful of walnuts with my oatmeal and a handful of cashews in my recipe all on the same day and maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter on some toast.

        Guess I am going to find out how many is too many. Not sure if I am pushing my luck, but it is filling and I am enjoying them.

        Reply
    • Julie

      Keep grinding and you will have a wonderful Almond nut butter!

      Reply
  5. carlos alen

    I LOVE NUTS πŸ™‚ nowwwwww more then before I’ve bein eating nuts as a little snack and I notice that I look better and feel great & and I bien loosening some belly fat. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. NancyBrom

    Question: I LOVE nuts and am trying to be more vegan-like in my consumption, but how many servings of nuts per day is recommended? I find that when my family and I are on holiday, everyone else is munching on food that I choose not to eat, but I get the munchies, too, so I hit the nuts.
    WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED β€œLEGAL LIMIT” FOR NUT CONSUMPTION EACH DAY?

    Reply
  7. Fitness Over 50

    Far better to eat nuts while watching TV than eating chips, chocolate, etc.

    In fact, nuts make a great snack anytime you are looking for a snack

    Reply
  8. lauralei

    i love this post – because i am eating nuts while reading it πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • jennie b

      Lol. .me too!

      Reply
  9. Dora

    has anyone tried macadamia butter before? it is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL, and the oils don’t separate like many other non-peanut-based butters.

    Reply
    • trajayjay

      I made my own before and it was nasty

      Reply
  10. TonyK

    LOL, that’s the Paleo line of thought. Peanuts = legumes = baaad.

    Reply
  11. Spectra

    I’m fairly sure it’s because a lot of people are way too clean these days. If your immune system never gets exposed to harmless bacteria, it doesn’t have anything to attack. The receptors on certain compounds found in nuts (especially peanuts) seem to be very close structurally to bacteria receptors, so the body’s immune system goes haywire when it sees those compounds and you get the allergic reaction. I don’t think I knew a single kid in my whole school who had a nut allergy when I was a kid…guess our parents just let us eat more food off the floor and didn’t sterilize our toys every five seconds. Too much “helicopter parenting”, if you ask me.

    Of course, there are always exceptions, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

    Reply
    • Nick

      It is not only because children today are kept away from germs, but also because children nowdays are eating nothing but processed garbage food!
      In the old days, if a kid wanted a snack, he or she would grab an apple, or a banana, or a bag of peanuts, or popcorn. Now days, kids eat garbage junk food, like chips, pizza poppers, or any variety of factory-made crap.
      Therefore, most American children today are FAT, lazy, stupid, and sickly all the time (bad hair quality, bad skin, bad teeth, and poor mental abilities). It is all because of the lack of two things; Proper natural food, and daily exercise. You can blame the parents for the entire problem.

      Reply
      • Ralph

        Nick U R 100 percent right!!

        Reply
  12. ArrowSmith

    Why do we have this epidemic of nut allergies compared to the previous generation?

    Reply
  13. Kate

    Nut allergies (and food allergies in general) are much more common among children than they are among adults. More kids are diagnosed now than were 30-40 years ago, and nut allergies, though they usually aren’t outgrown completely, do wear off in severity. So the kid that could go into anaphylaxis from being around nuts (no, ingestion is not necessary in all, or even the majority of cases, with nut allergies) may not be able to eat them as an adult, but will probably be able to accidentally touch them or breath in the dust.

    Reply
  14. Kellie - My Health Software

    I think that they have to eat the nut to have an allergic reaction, not just smell them. However, the school and the parents don’t want to take the risk. Children can be messy eaters and may swap lunches when they eat as a group. The child in my sons class has an allergy to nuts so severe that she develops anaphylaxis. She stopped breathing and was unconcious from eating peanut butter when she was 4. Pretty scary for the mum.

    Reply
  15. Spectra

    Yeah, but didn’t you see that when the test subjects ate the nuts, they didn’t gain an appreciable amount of weight? I always thought that if I ate nuts, I’d gain a lot of weight, but I didn’t…I gained maybe a pound, but my overall health improved quite a bit.

    Reply
  16. ArrowSmith

    My point is that it’s always the healthiest to eat from the widest range of foods.

    Reply
  17. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog

    Why? What do you mean why… I LIKE IT. That’s why. I wasn’t talking about people. I was talking about me.

    People can eat whatever the hell they want. All nuts are great.

    Reply
  18. ArrowSmith

    Um why? People should eat all kinds of nuts.

    Reply
  19. FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog

    It’s all about the peanut and almond butter.

    Reply
  20. ArrowSmith

    BTW, if nut allergies are so horrible why don’t all offices become “nut free zones”? It’s very simple, public education bureaucrats are out of control. Down with the NEA!!!!

    Reply
  21. ArrowSmith

    Do kids with nut allergies get reaction from simply smelling the nuts?

    Reply
  22. Heather

    I get mine in the natural food section of Kroger, I don’t know whether or not it’s out by the normal peanut butter/jelly, too.

    Reply
  23. Kellie - My Health Software

    I am a nut freak too! Unfortunately the school my children go to have a ‘nut free’ policy due to some children being allergic to nuts. So, we tend to eat lots of nuts on the weekend to make up for it. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  24. Kellie - My Health Software

    Angie, while you are there look out for ‘ABC Butter’. It has Almonds, Brazil and Cashew nuts and is delicious. I find it at our health food store.

    Reply
  25. Spectra

    Once I started eating 2 servings of nuts a day, my cholesterol numbers got almost instantly better. It went from an LDL of 122 and HDL of 57 to LDL of 90 and HDL of 75 and triglycerides of 53. I eat two handfuls a day…one as a snack, one on top of my salad at dinner. They really fill you up and they taste great. Plus, they have protein in them and they’re probably one of the more perfect plant foods out there. LOVE THEM!!

    Reply
    • Nick

      That’s great. I also eat about two handfuls of nuts, every day, and have been doing so for over 15 years. They will keep you healthy, and prevent weight gain and heart problems. Also you should eat a bowl of fruit every day as well. And, eat plenty of vegetable, a wide variety is best. You should eat pineapple, bananas, apples, grapes, and blue berries, at the very least. Soon, ALL junk foods will begin to taste like pure garbage to you.

      Reply
  26. Angie

    I’ve tryed cashew butter and didn’t care for it. I am willing to try almond butter. I assume it’s in the grocery store in the same place as the peanut butter.

    Reply
  27. Jody - Fit at 51

    When I was younger & did not do things the “right way”, I avoided all fat like the plague. I then learned that healthy fat is good for you & for years have been including about 25-30% of my calories from healthy fats. Different varieties of nuts have been a great addition. I actually saw better results in my body when I added them in. I like my power peanut butter but I eat raw, unsalted almonds & pistachios & love them! I just practice portion control!

    I am assuming that in your chart, the pistachios are in the shell for 45-47 of them for 30 grams?

    Reply
  28. Cabbage Soup Diet

    I love pistatcios even though they are expensive. I also really like peanuts as long as they are honey roasted.

    Reply
  29. Ben

    It’s still too easy to eat too many of them. They’re so tasty.

    Reply
  30. Angie

    That’s why you should never eat out of the container… You measure out the portion you want to eat, close and put away the container, and then eat your nuts!

    Reply
    • trajayjay

      yeah but I alwAYS find myself reaching back for the container again

      Reply
  31. Heather

    I put the (natural, it’s tastier) almond butter in my morning oatmeal. Sooo tasty. And covers up the protein powder flavor.

    Reply
  32. Jane

    You can ignore nuts but the nutritional value that it gives is greater that a common vegetables can give

    Reply
  33. Ben

    Nut are great. The only problem is that it’s hard to get nuts in small packs. And a big can of nuts has 1000+ calories. It’s hard to stop eating them.

    Reply
  34. Rob

    I’m a peanut butter fanatic, but I recently discovered almond butter which I think was sent from heaven…

    Reply
  35. Angie

    I don’t know where you got that peanuts clog the heart. True they are a legume, but they aren’t bad for you.
    Peanut consumption reduces serum triglyceride levels by up to 24%; and reduce cardiovascular risk by up to 6 – 8%. Furthermore, peanuts added significant magnesium, folate, fiber, copper and arginine to the dietary intake.
    http://heartdisease.about.com/cs/riskfactors/a/peanuts.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut#Nutritional_value

    Reply
  36. Jack Damn

    Almonds and Walnuts are awesome. I eat them almost every day. Peanuts, being a legume, I avoid (along with all other heart clogging legume).

    =^.^=

    Reply
  37. Angie

    This nut study makes me happy…. I eat nuts at least once a day, either in my oatmeal as peanut butter. As a peanut butter sandwich or a handful cashews as a snack. They’re yummy, good source of healthy fat and protein. I feel bad for the people that have nut allergies.

    Reply
    • Nick

      Yes, Angie, it is sad that many people are allergic to nuts of various types. However, they do have the option of eating certain vegetables and fruits in order to make up for the lack of eating nuts. Collard greens, for example, are unbelievably high in nutrients, but, the flavor can be a bit offensive to some people.

      Reply
      • Anne-marie Saturnino

        Hey guys πŸ™‚ i too am a nut freak! Can’t get enough of them and i know I eat too many every day but I’ve never put the weight on so I am going to keep carrying on. I have seeds, pine nuts, almonds, cashews, the entire lot and prefer having a bowl (or 2 πŸ™‚ of this with maybe some yoghurt far more than a chocolate bar hehe πŸ™‚ glad to see i am not the only nut addict hehe πŸ™‚ enjoy!

        Reply
        • marilyn_saturnino@hotmail.com

          You can see why I always try to remember to hide my own nut supply, when you visit!!! Where have all my cashews gone??

          Reply
          • Anne-marie Saturnino

            Ooops sorry mum :-D:-D you should know by now to hide them when I visit you! HeheΒ