Do you find yourself having difficulty shedding weight on your Paleo regime? Or perhaps you’re still experiencing GI distress or frequent breakouts even though you’ve cut out the gluten, the dairy and the legumes.
Too many nuts, or the wrong type of nuts could be causing the problem.
Nuts can indeed be a part of the Paleo Diet when eaten in moderation: “in moderation” being the key takeaway message.
Since nuts are high in inflammatory Omega-6 and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3, they should be regarding more as a garnish than a regular, go-to source of dietary fat.
The fats we should rely on regularly are raw avocados, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, as well as the fats we find with our protein sources, like wild salmon or the occasional fattier cut of grass fed meat, like a nice rib-eye.
Are All Nuts Created Equal?
Not at all.
We must factor in not only the type of nut, but also how the nut might be processed.
- Raw, sprouted nuts are best, whereas you should steer clear of those found in large canisters, roasted in peanut oil. By soaking nuts and allowing them to sprout, we can reduce the amount of phytates we consume when we eat a handful of them with an apple as a snack, for example.
- Surprisingly, almonds, which we see in abundance in many forms and varieties, have one of the worst Omega 3:6 ratios, with virtually no detectable Omega-3s!
- Walnuts, Macadamias and Brazil Nuts, however, rank as the top three in their ratio which is more favorable, but still not ideal.
Don’t make the common mistake of buying a huge vat of nuts and bringing them to the office to “snack on” throughout the day. Far too often this ends in too many calories, an unbalanced macronutrient profile and an upset stomach.
How many nuts are too many nuts?
Simply put, if you’re eating any nuts more often than as the occasional garnish, it may be too much. Because they’re easy to purchase, easy to eat and require zero preparation, many people make the mistake of making them their go-to snack for the office or home, and end up consuming hundreds of extra calories each day without even realizing it.
But why are some nuts ok, but not some grains or some legumes?
It comes down to portion sizes and frequency. We’re only meant to be eating a small portion, as a garnish, on occasion, whereas with pasta, bread or bagels, the amount eaten in the typical Standard American Diet is closer to cupfuls.
A good example of how many nuts to eat might include a tablespoon of raw walnuts on a salad or a handful of raw almonds with an apple, some sliced turkey and spinach made into a wrap a couple times per week is the way to go.
Eating a vat of salted nuts, roasted in peanut oil that you purchased on sale at Costco each week is the wrong approach.
Are Nuts for Everyone?
Certain populations may need to be even more careful with nuts, such as those with autoimmune conditions. While some can tolerate nuts and seeds others cannot. The best approach is to go nut-free for a month on top of the standard Paleo Diet and then test to see if you react.
Because of their high fat content, nuts kept in the freezer can be eaten in that state. They won’t freeze into a rock-solid piece of ice the way a piece of lean chicken or veggies would.
Rather than following the budget friendly strategy of buying in bulk, only to find that two pound bag of organic raw walnuts still sitting in your cupboard two months later and not tasting so great, keeping them in the freezer proves to be cost-effective too, as nothing will spoil and go to waste.
For an easy to make treat, rinse, then freeze some organic grapes or a sliced banana. Paired with a handful of macadamias and topped with a dash of cinnamon and ginger, this makes an incredibly decadent “something sweet” way to finish a meal, far more representative of True Paleo than any treat.
Zero processing and loads of flavor is the way to go.
For a special occasion, create the decadent Raw Chocolate Covered Walnuts with Berries.
Nell Stephenson, BS USC EXSC, ACSM H/FI, Paleolista is a Paleo Nutritional Counselor, co-author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook, author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat