Why We're Not Nuts About Nuts
Despite being "allowed" by paleo and keto diets, nuts are not nearly as healthy as a lot of people think they are. Though nuts do contain a fair amount of protein, the quality of that protein is far lower than that of animal protein because the protein in nuts is not "complete," meaning it does not contain all nine essential amino acids.
Of particular note is how low nuts are in leucine, a branched chain amino acid that is especially important for muscle maintenance and fat loss. You'd need to consume over 800 calories in almonds to get the same amount of leucine that you'd get in a 325 calorie serving of beef!
Another myth about nuts involves their high omega-3 content. While it is true that most varieties of nuts have some omega-3, even the healthiest nuts contain around four times as much dangerous omega-6. The omega-3 in nuts also comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (APA), which is harder for our bodies to use than the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in seafood and grass-fed beef.
Most nuts are also high in antinutrients like phytates, lectins, and tannins. Because humans cannot digest these substances, they bind to minerals like iron and zinc and to nutrients like proteins and starches, preventing us from absorbing these nutrients and reaping their benefits.
These antinutrients can also cause, gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal problems. To make matters worse, the high fat content in nuts can also contribute to diarrhea.
Additionally, consuming too many Brazil nuts in particular can cause an unhealthy buildup of the mineral selenium in your body; you should consume no more than 4 of Brazil nuts in a day, and not every day! Symptoms of selenium poisoning include hair loss, brittle nails, bad breath, and achy muscles and joints.
Finally, because nuts are so calorie dense, a serving size is actually pretty small: for example, 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 15 pecan halves, or 14 walnut halves. However, because they are cheap, convenient, and taste good, nuts are incredibly easy to overeat.
The fact that nuts are often served salted, covered in sugar, or processed into oily butters makes them even more addictive and unhealthier. You'd probably have a hard time eating three candy bars in a row, but you could consume the same amount of calories from a few handfuls of nuts without even thinking twice about it!
To keep you from overindulging when you are ready to incorporate nuts back into your diet, store them in individual-serving sized containers or buy them shelled to slow down your snacking. You could also combine your nuts with fiber and protein to make them more filling; for example, adding a few into a salad or stir-fry. Raw veggies might be a more satisfying option for between meals.
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