Are you nuts for nuts like I am? You may have heard conflicting things in the wellness space: some say nuts are fattening, others say they’re a superfood, so which do you believe? Are nuts healthy?
Yes! With lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, nuts are SUPER healthy. But, they are calorie-dense, so you need to watch those portion sizes if you want to lose or maintain your weight.
Here’s what you need to know.
Is it healthy to eat nuts every day?
Absolutely! Nuts are a nutrition powerhouse, full of benefits for your heart, brain, and body. They’re jam-packed with antioxidants, lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.
To get the most benefit from nuts, regularly switch up the type of nut so you get a good cross-section of nutrients.
What kinds of nuts are there?
Some of my favorites include:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Don’t forget about seeds, too! They have similar benefits and are delish.
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
Oh, P.S.: When I’m talking about nuts being a healthy food, I don’t mean the roasted, salted kind. Those’re baked with oil and salt and aren’t that great for you. Look for raw, unsalted varieties instead.
Will nuts make you gain weight?
No, nuts aren’t “fattening” foods. Studies have shown nuts and other healthy fat sources will actually help you lose weight.
Nuts themselves won’t make you gain weight: however…
Nuts are a high nutrient, high-calorie food.
When we talk about calories, we’re really talking about how much energy is in a food. Our bodies use that energy as fuel. If we burn more calories than we eat, we lose weight, if we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight, and if the amount of calories we eat is equal to the amount of calories we burn, our weight stays the same.
Because they’re SOOO delicious and moreish (and tiny), it’s very easy to eat a BUNCH of nuts in one sitting i.e. a LOT of calories, which can lead to weight gain.
This is where the misinformation about nuts being fattening comes from.
Remember: NO food, in itself, will make you gain weight, despite what you might hear.
When you consume high caloric density foods in large amounts, this can make you gain weight.
If you ate nothing but nuts all day long, even though they’re healthy, you could gain weight because they’re high calorie.
There’s a difference between a food being healthy and a food being low in calories.
Many nutritious foods are also higher in calories (like dark chocolate, avocados, meat, coconut oil, olive oil, and yes, nuts). It doesn’t mean we should avoid those foods, we just have to be smart about portion sizes.
How many nuts should I eat a day?
Eaten at a sensible portion size as part of a balanced diet, nuts are incredibly healthy for you – and may even help you lose weight.
You don’t have to be afraid of eating nuts altogether! Just watch the amount of nuts you eat.
A little goes a long way, you know?
(As moreish as that bag of macadamias is to just dip into when you’re peckish.)
Here’s what the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend as a daily serving of nuts:
A daily serve of nuts is equal to:
- 30 g (about 2 tablespoons) of nuts, seeds, nut butter, tahini/seed paste
- This equates to roughly 500 – 600 kJ, or 121 – 145 calories
- Switch out a serve of protein a day for a serve of nuts
Yup. Just two tablespoons a day – that’s all you need, and it’s the nutritionally recommended serving size.
Portion it out, behold in horror how small an amount that actually is, and then do this next thing.
Don’t rely on nuts to fill you up. Add a lower-calorie item to your snack to add bulk, volume, and satiety so you feel satisfied.
(We’re not about starving ourselves here, it’s not how we roll.)
Some of my favorites to pair with nuts for a healthy snack include:
- Veggie sticks (carrot, cucumber, or capsicum) and hummus
- A piece of fruit (apple, banana, peach, berries)
- Have nut/seed butter on grain toast with half a banana
You can also add nuts to your recipes for a good dose of healthy fat, added crunch and flavour. Try my top secret healthy recipe for simple six ingredient choc peanut butter cookies. Sooo good you won’t believe they’re nutritious too.
So, In Conclusion …
You may have heard rumors that nuts are bad for you/cause weight gain, and that’s just not true! Nuts are INCREDIBLY healthy and are an important part of a balanced diet.
However, they ARE very calorie-dense, and it’s easy to overeat them, so remember: a little goes a long way. Keep it to a serving of 2 tablespoons a day and you’ll enjoy all the health benefits – without affecting your waistline.
Now I’d love to hear from you. What’s YOUR favorite kind of nut? (Mine’s macadamias – and cashew butter – OMG.) Share yours with me in the comments below!
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