October 22nd marks Nut Day 2021. We thought we’d share some interesting information about nuts, as people often ask us if certain nuts are okay to eat, or if some types are better than others. Nuts are a good source of protein, healthy fats, fibres, vitamins and minerals. Overall, Australians aren’t eating enough nuts, with only an estimated 2% having a handful (30g) per day. Research has found that those who eat one handful of nuts daily have a 22% reduction in the risk of dying early, compared to people who never eat nuts. This is due to those who eat nuts regularly having a lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, depression or being overweight. It has also been found that eating nuts regularly improves your brain function, such as memory, problem solving and decision making.
While nuts contain similar nutrients, there are some variations. Almonds are a good source of non-dairy calcium. They are also a good source of fibre, with chestnuts, almonds and hazelnuts in particular having in excess of 10g of fibre per 100g. While macadamias are one of the richest plant sources of monounsatured (healthy) fats, pecans are one of the highest antioxidant-containing foods. Cashews are higher in iron than other tree nuts. From a gut-health perspective, it can be good to include a variety of nuts, as this will help to diversify your diet.
Both raw and roasted nuts have a similar nutrient profile, however, some nutrients become more concentrated in roasted nuts, while other nutrients might be reduced, as they are not heat stable. Either way is a healthy way to enjoy nuts, it is just best to avoid varieties with added salt.
People often worry that nuts will lead to weight gain, however, evidence has shown that up to 30% of the kilojoules (energy) in nuts are not absorbed, and nut consumption has not been shown to lead to weight gain. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend a handful (30g) of nuts on most days of the week. The protein, fibre and fat content of nuts help to fill you up, which may mean less snacking on other foods throughout the day.
What a serve of nuts look like:
- 20 almonds
- 10 Brazil nuts
- 15 cashews
- 20 hazelnuts
- 15 macadamias
- 15 pecans
- 2 tbs pine nuts
- 30 pistachios
Our top tips for increasing nuts in your diet:
- Sprinkle nuts on salad to add crunch
- Use nut meals in cooking i.e. almond meal
- Buy a variety of nut spreads (opt for 100% nut varieties)
- Snack on nuts rather than processed snacks
- Top your cereal with nuts