When I tell someone that we eat a lot nuts, usually pecans or almonds because I’m allergic to walnuts, they often say, “You’re lucky. I could never eat those they are so high in fat.
What strikes me is that people worry about nuts being “high in fat” but rarely think about the fat in cheese or beef or chicken.
Why have we been warned to only eat a “handful” of nuts so often that it’s become a “fact?” I don’t know the answer to that question.
With all the research I’ve done, I can’t find concrete information as to where that idea came from. But I have found, over and over, that eating nuts instead of other snack foods has been shown to have positive health benefits.
A “serving” of nuts or seeds is a quarter cup of nuts/seeds or two tablespoons of a nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, etc – the natural kind with just nuts and maybe salt).
We eat easily 2-3 and maybe more times that much on a daily basis (except fasting days). Yes, it’s “a lot” of calories and there is fat in them certainly.
There is also protein and carbohydrates. Cashews, for example, are about 21% protein, 25% carbs and 46% healthy fat. One serving is about 200 calories (almost as much as a whole head of cabbage).
Now, before you go running off to rid yourself of every nut and seed in the house, the science says they are GOOD for you and clinical trails have shown the don’t make you gain weight.
In fact, they can cause you to LOSE weight. How is that possible?
The fat in nuts makes you feel full
Your brain knows, from years of evolutionary practice, that fat = energy. When you intake enough energy and nutrients your body recognizes, in the form of plants, it says, “That’s enough. I’m full. Thanks.” And you stop eating and you eat less later (dietary compensation).
To be fair, if your body is used to getting empty fat (no nutritional value) like that found in processed “foods” and flavorings, it might have learned to ignore that feeling because it’s not used to getting nutrients with fat. Which means until it relearns, you’ll have to be consciences that you don’t eat cups and cups of nuts in a sitting.
This is also a risk if you are eating salted nuts as the salt will override your body’s “I’m full” message. (We eat only raw, unsalted nuts and seeds.) This dietary compensation accounts for about 70% of the calories in nuts.
Not all the calories are bioavailable
That is a fancy way of saying, we can measure the calories in a lab by burning them (remember that one calorie = the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of a gram of water one degree Celsius. Don’t worry your body doesn’t understand what that has to do with anything either).
But, your body is not as efficient at extracting calories from food as a flame in a lab. About 10% of fat calories are flushed right through your system. Never getting a chance to land on your hips.
Nuts rev your metabolism
Unlike other foods that are high in fat (animal products, which are also unhealthy fat) that slow your system down, nuts have been shown to increase the number of calories you burn.
Burning about 11 grams of additional fat in an eight our period. (Shh don’t tell the drug companies. They’ll try to extract it, patent it and say they created a wonder-weight-loss drug).
Nuts are loaded with nutrients
The list of all the good stuff in nuts reads like a high school chemistry textbook, so I won’t bore you. But the highlights are iron, calcium and vitamin E. Bonus!
Will nuts raise cholesterol?
The short answer is, no. In fact, eating just four Brazil nuts a month has been shown to reduce cholesterol. The science on this is in the early stages. But since there is no down side to eating four nuts a month, why not?
We eat ours on the first of every month. (In this case, more is not better. Too many Brazil nuts can cause a problem with selenium. Good for you in the right dosage. Not good for you in high dosages.)
Nuts might make you better in the bedroom
Erectile dysfunction (men) and low arousal (women) is often caused by early atherosclerosis (the same thing that causes heart disease).
It makes sense when you think about it. Arousal requires good blood flow. Impaired blood flow. Impaired arousal. Not to mention an early warning sign that you’re headed for heart disease.
Eating nuts lowers cholesterol. Lower cholesterol equals better blood flow. Better blood flow… You get the picture.
In short, eating nuts will not make you fat, may help you lose weight, will lower your cholesterol and improve your blood flow and make your bedroom time more enjoyable. If that doesn’t motivate you to eat nuts and seeds, I’m at a loss as to what will!
Ready to jump start your health and longevity? Click here to book a call with Dr Robyn and get on the path to a happier, healthier you!
Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.