We totally get it, nutrition can be extremely confusing—which is why, here at Amodrn, we want to help break it down for you (with the assistance of experts in the field, of course) so that you can go away and make well-informed decisions when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Nuts are just one of those foods that people are unsure of. We all know they’re good for you, but calories are calories, right? When it comes to portion control, how much is too much? Should we be opting for raw over roasted? So. Many. Questions.
Here, we pick the brains of Belinda Neville, Dietitian and Nutrition Program Manager at Nuts for Lifewho explains why you should be eating more daily, and how:
Amodrn: How many nuts should we be having a day in order to reap the benefits of but ensure we’re not overdoing it with the calories?
We should be aiming for at least a handful (30g) of nuts a day to reap the many health benefits. Sadly most Australians are falling well short eating just 6g on average. Nuts are often referred to as energy (or calorie) dense, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be concerned. In fact, evidence spanning the last two decades has shown that, compared with those who don’t eat nuts, nut eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), and are less likely to gain weight over time.
“Yes, nuts are calorie-dense—but they’re also nutrient dense and most importantly, research shows that they are not associated with weight gain.”
Nuts are also packed with nutrients and bioactive substances, essential for good health which may help explain their effect on weight. Their fibre and protein content help satisfy hunger and reduce appetite, whilst the healthy fats in nuts help to release satiety hormones in the digestive system—helping to tell you when you’re full. Nut eaters also excrete more fat in their stools, meaning less fat and energy is absorbed.
Is there any particular nut that’s better for those trying to maintain/or lose weight?
Any nut is great to add to your diet if you are watching your weight or trying to lose a few kilos. Just steer clear of those covered in chocolate! Nuts can boost your metabolism by 5-10% and contain a unique combination of healthy fats, protein and fibre to keep you feeling full for longer and help control your appetite.
You don’t need to worry about the fat in nuts. It is healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. It’s a good addition to a weight loss diet as these fats switch on satiety hormones in your gut and help you to feel more full.
What are some of your favourite nuts and what health benefits do they provide?
All nuts are packed with nutrients, so you really can’t go wrong. It’s more about making sure you snack on nuts daily rather than the variety you choose. My tip is to try and mix it up as each nut variety does contain different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, so choosing a mix will help to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients.
Overall nuts are an excellent choice for heart and brain health. They can help reduce cholesterol, improve cognition and blood flow, plus they also help the body produce the feel-good hormone serotonin—talk about happy snacking!
When choosing nuts, what’s the main difference between roasted, dry and raw? Are we safe in assuming raw is the best option?
They are all great choices. The only real difference between raw and roasted nuts is that roasted nuts contain less B group vitamins. These vitamins are not heat stable so can be lost during the roasting process. Australians generally get most of their B group vitamins from grains and cereals, so it’s not really a worry for most of us—so I would say to pick the variety you enjoy the most. And if you’re worried about the extra oil that nuts are roasted in, you needn’t be as nuts only absorb around 2-5% of it.
For those who may be following a low FODMAP diet, which nuts do you recommend and which nuts are known to trigger symptoms of IBS in some people?
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms vary significantly between individuals, and following a low FODMAP diet is only one of many strategies, which may alleviate symptoms in some people. Other causes of IBS include fatty or spicy foods, caffeine and stress.
If you’re following a low FODMAP diet, avoiding cashews and pistachios is recommended, whereas macadamias and walnuts are safe to continue to enjoy. Remember, a low FODMAP diet should only be followed for 2-6 weeks under the supervision of a qualified health care professional and an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Roughly a handful of nuts (30g) equates to:
10 Brazil nuts
2 tablespoons of pine nuts
30 pistachio kernels
10 walnut halves