Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 May

Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?

nuts3Who doesn’t like nuts? They’re crunchy, fatty, nutritious, and convenient. They travel well. Tossing them into the air and catching them with your mouth is a fun way to impress any onlookers (this effect is enhanced if you sit in a chair backward at the same time). They even turn into butter. Nuts are the common bond between all dietary sects, it seems. Vegans love them for the protein. Ancestral eaters accept them, some begrudgingly. Weston A. Pricers have to soak, sprout, dehydrate, and ferment them before they’ll even consider eating nuts, but in the end, they love them. Mainstream healthy dieters dig their “healthy fats.” Epidemiologists, squirrels, and birds laud them. They’re self-contained little morsels of instant edibility, good raw and roasted alike. What’s not to like?

Well, there’s the phytic acid. Wait – isn’t that the stuff you find in grains and legumes? Yes. Should we be concerned? Let’s take a look…

Hi Mark,

I was hoping to get your take on phytic acid in nuts. If nuts are so good for us, and beans and grains so bad, but all three contain a good amount of phytic acid, what’s the deal?

I like nuts. I guess what I’m really asking is: can I still eat them?

Thanks,

Cindy

Yes, it’s true. Nuts contain a lot of phytic acid, AKA phytate, AKA IP-6, AKA the storage form of a plant’s phosphorus, and antioxidant to the seed in times of oxidative stress (PDF). When something that contains it is eaten, phytic acid binds to minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, and manganese in the gastrointestinal tract, unless it’s reduced or nullified by soaking, sprouting, and/or fermentation. Bound minerals generally cannot be absorbed in the intestine, and too many bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies. Animals who produce phytase – the enzyme that breaks down phytate – can thrive on phytate-rich foods. Rats, for example, produce ample amounts of phytase and can handle more dietary phytate without exhibiting signs of mineral deficiencies. Since humans produce around 30 times less phytase than rats, phytate-heavy diets might be problematic for humans.

By dry weight, nuts generally contain more phytic acid than similar amounts of grains and legumes. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this table, pulled from Chris Kresser’s excellent article on phytic acid in nuts:

In milligrams per 100 grams of dry weight

Brazil nuts    1719
Cocoa powder    1684-1796
Oat flakes    1174
Almond    1138 – 1400
Walnut    982
Peanut roasted    952
Brown rice    840-990
Peanut ungerminated    821
Lentils    779
Peanut germinated    610
Hazelnuts    648 – 1000
Wild rice flour    634 – 752.5
Yam meal    637
Refried beans    622
Corn tortillas    448
Coconut    357
Corn    367
Entire coconut meat    270
White flour    258
White flour tortillas    123
Polished rice    11.5 – 66
Strawberries    12

So, 100 grams of almonds has between 1138 and 1400 mg of phytic acid. Walnuts have 982 mg, and 100 grams of Brazil nuts tops the list with over 1700 mg!

Meanwhile, 100 grams of brown rice has between 840 and 990 mg, lentils have 779 mg per 100 grams, and oats contain just over 1100 milligrams.

So what’s the deal? Why do nuts get a pass, while grains and legumes get condemned?

First of all, grains and legumes are generally seen as dietary staples. They form the foundation of meals. People don’t have a “small handful” of refried pinto beans (and not just because that’s an incredibly messy way to eat them) or “one or two” grains of brown rice. They eat plates of this stuff, they rely on them for protein and calories, and sure enough, cultures whose diets are based on (improperly prepared) grains and legumes often suffer the symptoms of widespread mineral deficiencies, like nutritional rickets.

Nuts, on the other hand, are an adornment to a meal or a snack in between. A condiment. They are not meals themselves. And though I hear stories of people going Primal and subsequently going crazy with nuts, eating almond flour bread with every meal and downing a pound of pecans each day, I just don’t see it. I could be mistaken, of course. If I am wrong, and you guys are indeed eating large quantities of phytate-rich nuts every day, don’t do that. Keep it to about a handful (which is between one and two ounces, depending on the hand) per day. But my general sense is that people aren’t eating copious amounts of nuts. They’re eating some nuts in between meals, on those days when they just need a snack. They’re making almond meal pancakes once or twice a month (cause let’s face it – they’re kind of a drag to make and clean up after).

It’s quite telling that all the studies looking at the effect of phytate on mineral bioavailability focus on grains and legumes, not nuts, because grains and legumes are what people are actually eating and relying on for nutrients. In 2007, the average American ate 610 grain calories and just 89 nut calories per day. I strongly suspect those numbers would look a little different for a Primal eater, but my point stands: you don’t see any studies examining the effect of almond intake on mineral bioavailability because nobody’s relying on almonds for their nutrition.

Second, those figures are for “phytate per 100 grams dry weight.” 100 grams of almonds is a little different than 100 grams of brown rice in the real world, on your plate, and in your mouth. The brown rice is about 362 calories, while the almonds are 575 calories. You’re far more likely to plop 362 calories of brown rice onto a plate and go back for seconds than you are to eat almost an entire cup of almonds in a sitting. 100 grams of rice is a standard meal; 100 grams of almonds is veering out of “snack” and into “meal” territory.

Is there an “ideal” way to eat nuts with respect to the phytic acid content?

Although asking “What would Grok do?” doesn’t give us definitive prescriptions for what we ought to do, it can be a helpful starting point. How would our ancestors have eaten nuts? By the plastic shrinkwrapped pre-shelled and salted bagful? Or by the laboriously gathered and hand-shelled occasional handful? Eating nuts is effortless now, but it wasn’t always like that. Ever crack a macadamia shell by hand? A Brazil nut? An almond? It’s hard work. You’re either trying to break open a rock-hard shell or sifting through fragments of shell and nut to find something edible. If you eat your nuts like you had to gather and shell them yourself – rather than gorging on them by the handful – you won’t be able to consume a significant amount of phytic acid.

If you’re still worried about phytic acid from nuts, you can play around with food timing. In order for phytate to impair absorption, it has to physically come into contact with the minerals in question. Since mineral absorption – or non-absorption caused by phytate chelation – happens in the gastrointestinal tract, that wild and crazy place where masticated and partially digested food particles gather, mingle, and sometimes pair up, keeping the food in your gut away from the phytic acid in your gut by eating the nuts separate from other foods might improve your mineral status. The minerals in the foods with the phytic acid will presumably be affected, but the impact on other sources of minerals should be reduced. Eat your nuts apart from other sources of minerals. Sorry, those Brazil nut-crusted oysters, while delicious, might be a bad idea for zinc absorption.

This is in stark contrast to the way most people eat their phytate. The average person out for Mexican food, who eats grains and legumes with relish, is having four corn tortillas (448 mg phytate) with a small scoop of refried beans (622 mg) and some brown rice to, ya know, be healthy (990 mg). He throws in a few hefty slices of carne asada, but the combined 2060 milligrams of phytic acid for that meal will impact its overall mineral contribution.

The average Primal person, who avoids grains and legumes, has an ounce, or a small handful of almonds as an afternoon snack (350 mg phytate) with a couple Brazil nuts (171 mg) for the selenium. Being snacks, they’re separate from his meals. Being separate from his meals, the antinutrient effect of the phytate on the other minerals is lessened. If he bumped that up to 100 grams of each nut for over 3000 mg of phytate and over 1200 calories, then, yeah, he’d have a phytate problem (and an omega-6 problem). But he’s not doing that.

Unless you’re a Hadza, you shouldn’t be relying on nuts for the bulk of your nutrients and calories. And that’s the important thing: you don’t have to, nor are you compelled to, because the Primal eating plan is an overall nutritious one, full of mineral-rich vegetation, animals, and yes, the occasional handful of nuts. You’re not relying on plant foods for your zinc – you’re eating shellfish and beef and lamb for the far-more-bioavailable animal-based zinc. According to the evidence I was able to find, phytic acid simply isn’t a major concern in the context of a nutritious diet, especially one that contains ample amounts of  animal-based minerals and protein.

Besides, you wouldn’t want to completely eliminate phytate from your diet, even if it were possible. There are a number of possible beneficial health effects of a moderate amount of phytic acid which I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, like:

So to answer your final question, yes, I’d say you can definitely eat and enjoy nuts in moderation, an ounce or two (especially soaked) as long as you’re eating an otherwise nutrient-dense diet.

Which you are, right?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I go nuts if I eat too much nuts! :D

    I wouldn’t worry about the amount of phytic acid in nuts, because nuts are snacks, not meals, as Mark said.

    They contain other important nutrients from which our organisms benefit.

    Paul Alexander wrote on May 16th, 2012
  2. Perhaps I am ostracizing myself, but I actually don’t like nuts that much. If I eat one, I’m like, “Oh yeah, this is pretty good,” and might eat a few more, but I tire of them really fast, and never really seek them out.

    Sunflower seeds, though, are like crack. I picked up the habit in high school, cause I learned it from Agent Mulder on X-Files. Why must they show such bad role models to children!!

    cTo wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I don’t much care for nuts, either, and I actually find eating too many of them recalls the days of wondering what in my “healthy” meal of whole grain pasta and veggie-laden sauce was making me sick. In small amounts and used to make infrequent treats (like dark chocolate cake or a dairy-free, grain-free cheesecake), they’re lovely because they allow me to have things that I couldn’t eat otherwise and that I like to be able to share (birthday cake, for one!).

      I can no longer buy sunflower seeds because I go through a 1/2lb bag in less than a week. They’re too convenient to snack on when I’m working on essays. I tend to try to find more nutritious things that take equally long to chew on/break down (spiced but unsalted home-made jerky is currently a favourite).

      Samantha wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Haha I am the same, in high school I used to eat them every day. 15 years latter and I’m still addicted to them

      julia wrote on May 16th, 2012
  3. Thanks for this lovely article! It’s just the final kick in the pants (er, nuts) that I needed to get out of my diet more and more.

    Keep up the amazing work!

    Ann K wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Ha! Kick in the nuts, I love it. I mean I don’t love a kick in the nuts, but very funny…

      Sammy wrote on May 16th, 2012
  4. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Mark!

    Very helpful. I used to snack on nuts all day long. (I think I could live on nuts and peanuts.) Now I might have a few if dinner is a ways off.

    I tend to have kidney stones so I’m glad to hear about the effect of phytic acid on them.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • same here. i definitely need to reduce my nut intake.

      einstein wrote on May 25th, 2012
    • Have to stop eating almonds! I get through 100gms a day if they are in the house. I buy 400gms a week! Got to stop.

      Jacqui Thomson wrote on October 17th, 2014
  5. Well, this is not going to help the Julian Bakery’s Paleo Bread launch.

    Ion Freeman wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I was sure you were kidding about the Paleo Bread, but a quick Google search shows you aren’t!

      Karen wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Yeah, they’re launching a bread targeted to the ancestral health movement any day now, and a intellectual guiding light of said movement preemptively says it’s a bad idea. This is not going to make the product manager’s day.

        Ion Freeman wrote on May 16th, 2012
  6. I eat between 1 and 2 tablespoons of raw almond butter most days. Usually it’s on an empty stomach. I do make almond flour muffins for my wife and son so I will be sure to tell them not to overeat them.

    Thanks for the article!

    zack wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Hmm.. I typically buy raw almond butter too.. I highly doubt the almonds are soaked.. Would roasting them help? I.e. I wonder if non-raw butter would have some benefit? I guess like with most things, homemade would be best.

      Also, it’s the omega 6 in nuts that really concerns me..

      The Primalist wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • I believe in Paleo because I am healthier since I switched. BUT, I’m not sure I understand the “soaking nuts” part. Are you telling me that our “Primals” used to soak nuts??? I believe that if the hunting didn’t go as expected they would eat anything they can get their hands on… eggs, nuts, roots… We have a store here called Adonis and they sell nuts (almonds and pistachios) as though they were picked fresh off the tree with the soft membrane on top instead of what we are used to seeing with a hard shell because the membrane was removed. Do you know that the nut is breakable with your teeth and that the shell and even the nut is soft. So if freshly picked nuts are soft I don’t see where our “Primals” had difficulty in cracking them open.

        Diane wrote on November 25th, 2013
  7. This is a bit too primally wonkish for me to care about? Is the only problem with nuts that they hurt mineral absorption? If so, why not eat a bit more minerals to offset? Seems like an easy fix so I can continue to eat lots of nuts of all sorts shapes sizes and types. I am one of those people who can and does make a meal out of nuts and jerky.

    Please help me understand thanks.

    joe wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • No, you’re right. It’s really hard to shake the mainstream-engendered mindset that eating is gluttonous and evil and that animal should be eaten in small doses, and unfortunately we bring that attitude to the ancestral diet movement–so we are not thinking about what we need to eat MORE OF on top of what we need to avoid.

      Not only did Grok find it more difficult to eat nuts than we do today, Grok also got more bone broth and bone marrow and organs and meat. The few charts I’ve seen of typical intakes for traditional and paleolithic-type people indicate that their intake of various vitamins and minerals was stratospheric compared to our miserly little RDA. They would have laughed in the face of a stack of almond pancakes.

      Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
  8. Our girls eat almond flour pancakes one-two times per week. I guess we’ll be reducing that number.

    They also eat almond butter with veggies about once every 1-2 weeks.

    They don’t like other nuts on their own.

    Thanks for the clarification Mark!

    Happycyclegirl wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • You HAVE to try Chris Kresser’s new improved fluffy buckwheat pancakes. It’s easy, (but needs to be started the day before) fermented and soaked. I make the whole thing in the blender and save the batter up to a week. Great! Kids love it!

      Kim wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • I second that.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • Third that.

          Doug wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Where would I find this wonderful pan-cake?

        sandyboots wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • In Loren Cordain’s “The Paleo Answer” he lists buckwheat as a pseudo grain to avoid. While the fermenting and soaking should neutralize the phytic acid, he points out that buckwheat is high in lectins, which promote a leaky gut.

        With leaky gut toxins within our guts can cross the gut barrier and interact with our immune systems to elicit autoimmune diseases.

        Now I know this is a primal blog, and not a paleo blog. But the reason I follow paleo is to avoid the diseases of civilization, and autoimmune diseases are some of them.

        Don Wiss wrote on May 19th, 2012
        • Thank you

          sandyboots wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • Happycyclegirl,

      Try making them pancakes with coconut flour instead. Tasty and better nutritionally. :)

      Jennifer wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Maria Bear wrote on December 23rd, 2012
  9. So are nuts soaked in the process of making nut butter, or would, say, commercially available almond butter still have normal phytate levels as plain, unsoaked almonds?

    Kind of curious since I cut out almond butter recently (Too easy to overeat it). I have a pecan allergy and almonds are the only nut I really feel safe eating.

    A.Stev wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I also have a tendency to overeat almond butter – around my house we label foods like that “binge foods” no matter how good they are for us. Of course, I found a fix – I mix up half almond butter w/ half sunflower butter (organic, unsweetened), add ground flax seed & protein powder, and re-package. Still tasty, but not so binge-y. Lately I’ve been added a big TB of ghee or coconut oil to the mix …

      Jo wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Same here! Almonds, almond butter straight out of the container, in banana-almond-egg “pancakes”, protein shakes or any number of different recipes. I find a way to work it in to my diet. Super easy for me to binge on. That is a very interesting recipe to un-binge-fy it…must try…

        Lillian wrote on May 16th, 2012
  10. Can you soak nuts THEN roast them?

    Susie wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • If you soak them, it’s better to slowly dry them, then roast them. The insides might still be damp if you only roasted them (danger of mold).

      Magda wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Another reason to own a dehydrator.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2012
  11. What’s your take on mycotoxins in nuts, Mark?

    I heard a podcast guest tell the Fat Burning Man that, owing to time, distance, and storage factors, you simply could not buy Brazil nuts that “were not moldy” at the point of sale.

    That sounds a little alarmist, but for all I know he’s right.

    Lewis wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I’ve heard something similar and would like to know more definitively if I should be worried!! Especially since I don’t see a Brazil nut tree in my future…

      Alyssa wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Dr Hulda Clark suggests that we soak nuts in Vitamin C water (eg, a teaspoon of Vit C crystals) to kill molds and little-bad bugs. I seem to remember that she also said to wash your veggies in Vit C water, also. I’m not sure if this applies to aflatoxin though. Anybody out there know?

      Kathryn wrote on May 16th, 2012
  12. I think I read nuts need to be raw for a proper soak, otherwise you’re soaking fats from roasting that could turn rancid. Is this true? Also, aren’t all nuts in the U.S. pasteurized and thus not truly raw? So what kind of nuts should you buy if you want to soak them before eating.

    surlyrabbit wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • All nuts sold in stores are pasteurized either with steam heat, or propylene oxide.

      Derek wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • I inquired specifically to Trader Joes about their almonds labeled ‘raw’ and they replied that they are steamed. In the email they sent me back, they mentioned that certain other nuts they have labeled as ‘raw’ are not treated with steam or other. I don’t have a copy of it so I don’t recall what other nuts they named though.

        Deb M wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • In 2007 there was a big deal in the U.S. about the almond growers of California adopting a policy to use the gas to “sterilize” the almonds grown there. Almonds are also available from Turkey and perhaps the Mediterranean. Steaming would probably be a better health option than a chemical treatment, but may not eliminate the phytates and probably distorts the natural oils as well….it’s a guess. For more information on sprouting and soaking techniques, check out raw food blogs.

          Susie Q wrote on July 15th, 2012
    • Another question I’d like an answer to! Nuts are such a hassle; if I could think of things to replace them with in my diet, I would!

      Alyssa wrote on May 16th, 2012
  13. Thank you for mentioning the positive effects of phytate, Mark. Most people don’t know phytic acid is a somewhat potent anti-oxidant with actual, measurable health benefits. Like most things, the problem is when it crosses the threshold of toxicity. Making foods rich in phytate dietary staples like the SAD does is a huge mistake, but tiny quantities can be beneficial. Just make sure if you eat nuts, buy them raw when possible, store them in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers to prevent rancidity, and for God’s sake, eat them WHOLE, not as some rancid, baked nut meal. I would rather eat sourdough wheat bread than some poisonous almond meal monstrosity that’s both loaded with rancid omega 6 and tastes like a bad knockoff. If I’m going to poison myself, at least let it taste good.

    ChocoTaco369 wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Yeah, never got why people think almond meal is healthy when it is basically oxidized omega-6.

      Kev wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I am new to Paleo. So basically the diet is organic, pastured, wild, meat, fish and eggs. Veggies and berries?? How do you sustain that? I have a Paleo cookbook that uses almond flour and almond butter. Can’t do that either? I guess almond butter in small amounts. With no grains and no dairy, it is so limiting. What cookbooks do you recommend? No baked goods at all then?
      Thank you for any tips!

      Mary wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • My Paleo-mentor-(Susie) taught me how to prepare nuts, healthily. We buy raw refrigerated nuts from a food Co-Op. Bite the bullet and buy a bunch of various nuts because it’s a hassle to prepare. Soak for a day or two, change water couple times/day (NOTE: they swell some). I mentioned on an earlier post to add 1 tsp Vit C to water (at least first water); dry nuts after draining good, in dehydrator NOT over 95 degrees for about a day; then season or salt w/Celtic or pink salt; roast at lowest oven temp. until crunchy. Store in freezer to keep from going rancid or moldy. I kept the soaking nuts separated by type, then mixed them after roasting. Cashews were the worst tasting for me.

        Kathryn wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Almond butter is fine. Just don’t cook it. ;)

        Check out Mark’s post on white rice. White rice flour opens up a whole world for baked goods.

        Kev wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • I’d rather not eat either. I’m finding wheat’s a trigger for migraines and I like waking up Not In Pain.

      Almond flour’s a better bet than almond meal. Proper almond flour is both blanched and defatted, so the omega-6 is much less of a big deal.

      If I really want to use almond meal in a recipe I just grind my own almonds. It’s a waste of money to buy it. I refuse to buy preground flax meal for the same reason. It’s no challenge at all to put the seeds in a dedicated coffee grinder.

      Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Where are you finding actual almond flour (defatted)?

        I’m in the US, and all I can find are the full-fatted almond meals. Even the famous Honeyville brand is simply full almonds that have been more finely ground.

        Soporificat wrote on May 17th, 2012
  14. I soaked walnuts in water and found them too bland to bother with. I’m extremely sensitive to grains, dairy products, etc., and feel better if I avoid nuts altogether.

    Tom Dolan wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Walnuts soaked overnight then mixed with coconut oil (a little) and a bit of cinnamon or vanilla powder=heaven. If you use stevia, that works too. Or a spec of maple syrup if you tolerate it. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for a day or so….heavenly

      Susie Q wrote on July 15th, 2012
  15. We usually soak nuts, I buy them in large sealed packages, soak them overnight in water with sea salt then dehydrate them until crunchy again. The I store them in the freezer and they last a long time so I don’t have to do it very often, it’s not really a big deal. But we do also eat some roasted nuts and nut butters.

    Julie wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I soak and dehydrate too so I love the idea of soaking in sea salted water–I would think it would add some nice flavor!

      Paula wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • I shall have to try the salt….thanks.

      I just put a small handful of nuts in a bowl of water and let them soak overnight and then drain them and put them in the fridge…same bowl and when the bowl is empty…repeat for the next days supply….this way, as I am committed to eating only soaked nuts, I can’t overindulge.

      If I don’t eat them all mould is not a problem because they are in the fridge.

      Jo-Anne wrote on May 16th, 2012
  16. This is a more general question- you said that nuts were hard to find and open, so they were the occasional treat. I’m going out on a limb here, relying on my 8 am biology lectures, but wasn’t meat technically a delicacy too? Was Grok really eating steak for breakfast lunch and dinner? And if he wasn’t a coastal hunter gatherer, he probably wouldn’t be eating fish and shellfish. Depending on where Grok lived, his meat options would have been limited. And cows weren’t exactly around waiting like sitting ducks for every Grok to enjoy. Am I mistaken? Nuts just reminded me of this broader question I have been meaning to ask the paleo diet. Thank you.

    Caitlin wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • These are valid questions. But I think we can rely on modern-day hunter-gatherers as an example. They get together and make it a team effort to hunt down an animal. It’s not for delicacy’s sake. They might walk many miles to find a large game animal and spend a day stalking it, attacking it and hauling it home. The caloric density makes it worth the work. That’s my understanding. But there was also plenty of fish, small game, birds, shellfish etc. that would have displaced the large game often. So, no, I definitely wouldn’t think steak for breakfast lunch and dinner makes any sense at all, especially if you only eat once a day anyway. Might be large quantities of steak one night, bird stew the next, fish the next, etc.

      knifegill wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Meat was a staple rather than a delicacy – meat eating allowed the expansion of the brain via shrinkage of the guy (see Basal Metabolic Rate theory).

      Paleo humans had mega-fauna meat options that are now extinct, such as aurochs. They ate the meat, the organs, and the very calorific bone marrow. In fact it’s likely that pre-homo-sapiens hominids were scavengers who ate bone marrow and left overs before getting brainier and graduating to full-on hunting.

      There is a Cordain paper on modern HG societies and their calorie sources, and most (73%) of them get >55% of their calories from animal sources. Ancestral HGs probably got more

      celticcavegirl wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • I can’t wait until science “Jurassic Park’s” some Aurochs.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • And an eohippus

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Actually it’s more likely that coastal seafood, which has higher fat rate rate for our 80% fat content brains, along with all the extra DHA, minerals and stuff, is what we ate to get our big brains, big womanly hips (which signify DHA stores for brainy-baby making). Land animal meat promotes mineral imbalances and displacement and protein metabolism taxes our enzymes and GI tract way too much to be sustainable. Plus, look at us. Our grabby salt-water adapted finger pads and upright plantar walking bodes pretty well for low-tide coastal scavenging, and our mostly hairless body besides top of head hair that protects our eyes from the sun.

        Add to that that the it’s supported by the fossil record, most evolutionary modern text and theory.

        Just IMHO from an evolutionary biologist in grad school.

        Carrie wrote on February 19th, 2014
    • There weren’t cows just wandering around, but there were plenty of African Buffalo, antelope, copious amounts of game birds, pigs, other smaller mammals, such as rats and porcupines. Any animal you can imagine really.

      By comparison nuts, were tiny and scarce.

      Remember that our close (extinct) cousins, the Neanderthal (you may have a little in you BTW) were almost completely carnivorous.

      Matthew Caton wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • I’d rather spend a couple hours picking a bunch of small nuts in the cool forest than stalk game for days on end in the hot savannah with my sharpened sticks. You’d literally have to be stark raving mad to chase herds of animals around, trying to kill their young and weak while being simultaneously attacked by them and make yourself and your hunting crew vagrant, homeless and open to predators. The only reason you’d do that is if you were starving. And meat is very good if you are starving- in fact we’re made for it, the extra cholesterol coats your veins when there’s not enough plant matter to provide connective tissue repairing Vit. C., and the meat and excess iron increases your stress hormones and milks your adrenal glands so you can stay up paranoid for more sleepless mobile nights hunting on the savannah. Yayy lifestyle of paranoid hypertension and dying at 30!

        Carrie wrote on February 19th, 2014
    • I had though of this too…..but Hunter Gatherers may not all be ‘coastal’ but they would never be too far from a water source where life/food is usually abundant.

      Hunter Gatherers were not ‘fixed’ in one location and followed the food trail and relocated and rotated several hunting grounds not like us who are ‘fixed’ in place and have our food come to us via the retail sector.

      Modern day Hunter Gatherer societies eat once or twice a day and may or may not snack. They live their life outside and the sun actually decreases the need for food.

      I read somewhere that sunlight, as is water and air, is actually a real quantifiable energy source just like a calorie and that we ‘insiders’ replace it with food to make up the deficit…….thumbs down to the industrial revolution and the 24/7 mindset.

      So to my mind, an accurate food pyramid would be categorised by air, water, sunlight, movement, protein, fats, fibre and carbs. I suppose love, laughter and learning should be in there too as they are all important to our health.

      We usually over consume category because of under-consuming another….and to look at it in a holistic way is more beneficial.

      Jo-Anne wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • …….to add to that [correct me if I am wrong…..can’t find the source….] before white man came to Australia the Aboriginals had small family units and each had ‘custodianship’ of their land and an animal they were forbidden to hunt so their land was a ‘nursery’ for the surrounding areas.

        They didn’t pen the animals in and when they migrated to other areas they became food for their neighbours and vice versa.

        When sustainability replaces growth [and inefficiency and waste it’s closest mates] in the agricultural, manufacturing, education and food industries we will all be better served….paleo style of course.

        Jo-Anne wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • You realize bugs are animals, right? We ate a lot of those. Most cultures around the world still do. Good old primate heritage.

      There’s also the point that we tended to go after big game, which meant a lot of eating per hunting effort.

      Also, it is thought we started our vertebrate-eating career as scavengers, not as hunters, and that this may be where we first encountered dogs. We would have been competing with them for the same food.

      Anyway. We are so well-adapted to meat-eating and you don’t get that way from *limited* contact with it. It’s a nice vegan fantasy that has made its way into mainstream thinking but it really does not wash.

      Besides, if your diet is heavyish on the meat and contains no grains or refined sugars or seed oils? You just aren’t as hungry. You’re going to be *somewhat* hungry from expending physical effort (and now you know why lions laze around all day!), but you’re not going to have constant munchies like you would if your diet were all potato chips and Coke.

      Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Does that mean that the crushed up beetles in Starbucks Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino makes it good for us?

        I found it amusing that the beetles were the issue in this scenario, not the overwhelming amount of sugar in these drinks and other treats. I will take crushed beetles over food coloring any day. Then again, I just want to eat food that is the color it is supposed to be. :)

        Jennifer wrote on May 17th, 2012
    • Prey is a lot scarcer now than it used to be before we hunted a lot of the large mammals to extinction, forcing us to develop agriculture to feed ourselves (probably via herding). The agriculture in turn encroached on the habitat of the remaining prey, making it still scarcer. More recently, we’ve been overfishing too: river fish as well as sea-creatures (and yes, Grokka would have caught river fish by hand: look up ‘trout tickling’), which loses us another source of decent food.

      Look at the Ancient Greek legend of the Golden Age, a time in the distant past when people didn’t have to work for their food, and lived longer, healthier lives. I sometimes wonder whether this isn’t a folk memory of the pre-agricultural times when game was abundant, before we killed it off.

      In fact, this is my biggest problem with the whole Paleo ethos. It wasn’t sustainable then and it’s not sustainable now, unless we work really hard at making it so.

      Orielwen wrote on May 17th, 2012
      • The times of abundant food is not that far in the past. In what is now the United States, Lewis & Clark wrote of the astounding numbers of buffalo, and of fish literally jumping out of streams into their boats.

        HillsideGina wrote on May 17th, 2012
  17. To soak almonds according to Weston A. Price methods, combine:
    4 cups raw almonds
    1 T sea salt
    Filtered water to cover

    Let soak overnight, or at least 7 hours. Drain and dehydrate or place in oven of no more than 150 degrees F(65 C) for about 24 hours, until crispy.

    I suppose you could roast them after dehydrating, but they’re pretty good as is. You could also season them before dehydrating if you chose.

    Liz wrote on May 16th, 2012
  18. I’ve been putting off soaking the many raw nuts in my kitchen, waiting to become snacks blended with other foods in my food processor. Le Sigh. I always soaked my beans overnight and have enjoyed the hiatus from extra steps. I suppose the time is nigh to start them soaking, since we combine them with other foods for snacks and dips. Thanks as always for the helpful links!

    yoolieboolie wrote on May 16th, 2012
  19. And I thought I was just nuts…

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 16th, 2012
  20. Nuts are great to satisfy a desire for crunchy food that a low carb diet can otherwise leave unfulfilled. It’s not hard to do the soaking routine and – if you have never tried it – the nuts taste so much better.

    Walnuts taste like essence of walnut and the mouth sore causing acids are neutralized by soaking.

    Almonds taste like almond extract. Hard to find raw ones to start with, but it seems to work as well with the pasteurized ones.

    Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium for cancer protection and thyroid health.

    Thanks for the great discussion, I would only add a big encouragement to try the soaking and dehydrating!

    Deborah Gordon wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Here’s my wonderful source for truly raw almonds and other nuts: rawnutsandseeds.com

      It’s a small company and you really know what you are getting, nut-wise :) Ask for Michael.

      I soak them and dehydrate. Then I try not to overeat them!

      B wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • OMG…I finally learned why walnuts would give me instant mouth sores (but not always). I thought I was allergic to walnuts. Thanks for sharing!!

      I love blogs.

      Kathryn wrote on May 16th, 2012
  21. Doh!
    Nuts/Trail mixes are what I consistently snack on every day at work (often replacing a midday meal)! Now I need a new dry-good snack-staple.

    Anders wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Biltong!

      Mikey wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Yes!! I love the stuff, just wish it was easier to get really good biltong here in the UK:(

        Annie wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • If you live in London, there is great biltong at the south African store in either London Bridge or Victoria station. Great stuff!

          Jake wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • I love biltong! Especially the lemon/chili one (don’t know if it’s completely primal, but yeah…well…still love it :)

        Sascha wrote on May 17th, 2012
        • Am now on a mission…

          Anders wrote on May 22nd, 2012
  22. I started eating low carb/primal to control blood sugar and blood pressure. I thought I was controlling my diet very good, both BS and BP had returned to near normal. Got caught away from home at meal time and purchased nuts as a safe food. Had blood test and blood pressure check 16 hours later. Was very surprised to find that my blood pressure 180/110! Everyone is different.

    Jim wrote on May 16th, 2012
  23. Mark, your main argument is that people don’t use nuts as a meal. I may be in the minority, but I consume nearly half of my daily calories from nuts. (About 800 Cals a day.)

    Compare that to the maybe 200 Calories of meat I eat a day.

    I don’t have a lot of time to cook, and I don’t eat processed food much. So instead of cooking all my meals for a whole week on Sunday, I cook my lunches. Then I fill any Calorie gaps I have with nuts.

    Should I soak them, or what?

    LJ wrote on May 16th, 2012
  24. The mongongo fruit/nut makes up about 1/3 of the caloric intake of the !Kung people. The skin is discarded, the flesh eaten, the hard nut is then roasted for about five minutes to facilitate cracking them. I don’t know if this nut is high in phytates, but it probably is. And I don’t know if roasting it in it’s shell for about five minutes would reduce the phytate significantly. But this nut is a staple of these people, who have existed as hunter-gatherers for tens of thousands of years. Here the web page where I got this info. The mongongo nut is the leading article. http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-3g.shtml

    D.M. Mitchell wrote on May 16th, 2012
  25. I’ve tried the soaking/drying method a few times, and it takes a lot of time! So I buy them already soaked/dried from Wilderness Family Naturals
    http://www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com/category/bulk-products-raw-nuts-and-seeds.php

    They have almost any nut you could want, including the PB favorite, macadamias. Also lots of other great stuff!

    Mary McCrimmon wrote on May 16th, 2012
  26. I have read that if you use blanched almond flour for pancakes/muffins etc. that much of the phytate is removed in the blanching process. While not as good as soaking, this article (wish I could find it right now) said that much of the phytate is in the skins so by blanching and washing a lot of the nasties are removed. Does anyone know anything more about this?

    B wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • You are correct. The phytic acid is in the bran. That is the brown outside covering. Almonds, and almond flour, can be purchased either blanched and unblanched. I would only buy blanched, or soak the almonds and remove the brown covers yourself.

      The list above does not include macadamia nuts. They don’t have a bran covering. They are low in phytic acid. Their shells are so tough I guess they need less antinutrients to keep animals from eating them.

      I need to see how to remove the bran from Brazil nuts. I believe steaming them for a few minutes will work.

      Don Wiss wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Oh, you are not kidding. You actually need a special nutcracker to handle macadamia nuts. That’s why you just about never find them available in shell.

        Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • Phytic acid, or IP6 as some cell biologists call it, is a known stimulator and ups gene expression of P56, which you may know as the “guardian angel antiocogene” aka the biggest cancer suppressor gene. Your cells generate small amount of IP6 for intracellular use, but studies have shown all extracellular IP6 (the kind found responsible for increasing P56 expression) is derived from diet. Phytic acid and folic acid are the ways to go if you want to jump start tumor suppressing genes in your body. Studies have also shown that the average grain-rich peanut-butter eating SAD is low in IP6. Phytic acid, or IP6, by the way, is the main phosphate compound used in plant metabolism, so you’re getting in whenever you eat plants, it’s just that the more calorically dense a plant (especially fats which actually are worth more stored energy per calorie in cells), it has a proportional amount of phytic acid it uses to store those calories.

        I’m going to posit that the gentle chelation by phytic acid is generally also good for the western person. Chelation is a touchy thing. Generally your thyroid is not so much depleted of iodine as much as other hypervalent toxic metals displace the iodine, i.e. highly carcinogenic pentavalent chromium that makes your stainless steel appliances stainless, mercury, radioactive compounds etc. So you need some low grade chelation if you have a toxic thyroid like most people, along with correct dosing of dietary iodine to inhabit thyroid cells once the toxic metals are chelated.

        Hope this helps keep things in perspective.

        Carrie wrote on February 19th, 2014
    • Yeah I was wondering the same thing…

      Tanya wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • That, and the other deal with almond flour versus regular ground almonds is they usually defat the almonds before grinding them into flour. There is still some residual fat there but not as much as in whole almonds. That helps with some of the O6 issue too.

      Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
  27. so… breakfast smoothie often includes almond milk & almond butter. I usually have a “handful” of nuts as a snack daily, sometimes more often. I had to institute a one LaraBar a day limit when I started Primal. I think I’m now better adjusted to having more food prepped in advance than I was, but… there’s still a lot of nuts in my diet.

    Joooolia wrote on May 16th, 2012
  28. I wouldn’t have survived the transition to fat-burner without nuts. In those early weeks, I ate copious amounts of almonds to resist the Snickers cravings. But after that, I learned more and was motivated to cut back. Now I have a small bag of nuts once a week, usually by itself, and enjoy them thoroughly. My Co-op has sprouted almonds, too! Yay!

    knifegill wrote on May 16th, 2012
  29. I also eat almond butter daily. And some weekends I make pancakes using almond butter to have for a quick breakfast during the next week. It sounds like I am waaaaayyy overdoing it!
    :-(

    Shelley wrote on May 16th, 2012
  30. Honestly, if the ‘eat a little bit’ is true for nuts, it should be true for beans. Beans are not exactly a staple if you just want to throw a cup in a salad or soup. So, there is no difference then. And a serving of rice is actually a small handful (1/3 cup dry). I think the divide is artificial. Any of these products can be consumed following the same guidelines: small volume, prepared properly and not daily. Yes, No?

    leida wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • the high carb count for rice and beans makes them off-limits for me.

      HopelessDreamer wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • This is my problem with the paleo/primal diet logic; our ancestors ate anything that was eatable when they found it. When grasses were ripe they ate the seeds. When legumes were ripe they ate them. They were on a constant daily search for something to eat.

      The issue for us today is to balance exercise, food intake and the variety of foods we intake. The only reason I can see to eliminate any foods from your diet is allergic reactions.

      Eating some foods to the total exclusion of others is not healthy and it has been proven time-n-time again. And yes, I realize I am speaking blasphemy on this forum.

      Judy wrote on May 17th, 2012
  31. A bit of phytic is probably not a big deal in a nutrient dense environment. As long as you are getting twice as much iron and what not than you need, then the phytic is not going to be able to put a dent in that. I think the phytic really comes much more into play when people are already eating nutrient poor borderline diets when further loss of nutrient absorption becomes a serious blow to an already serious deficiency. However, one other concern for nut consumption might be the potential for them containing a lot of rancid PUFA.

    Eva wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Glad someone finally mentioned the fat issue. Rancid or not, shouldn’t we be keeping the omega-6 fats down? I’ve been eating a ton of nuts (more than a cup a day) over the last year or two, and have just recently decided to get that down to about a handful or so, with emphasis on macadamias.

      vacexempt wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • An ounce or two a day and you’ll be getting around 4 -7 grams of omega-6’s, which should balance out nicely if you are including a few cuts of fish a week.

        Dangers of omega 6’s become present when the n-6 to n-1 is about 10:1 or greater. I’m not saying any lower than that is optimal, but it’s certainly not enough to be fearful of nuts. Some people in the Paleo world take the fear of n-6 a little too far.

        Even if you are eating a cup a day that’s only 15-18 grams of n-6, which if you are eating fish a few times a week would probably put your ratio around 4:1, which is pretty good, IMO.

        However, I find that the real danger in nuts, is the calories. These things pack calories and they are not satiating for the calories. Eating around a cup a day is more than 800 calories. By comparison, you could eat ONE POUND of grass-fed beef to get that many calories.

        http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/10526/2

        A cup doesn’t even look like that much, and most people wouldn’t even start to feel full after that.

        Nuts are an issue for most of my clients trying to lose weight, I believe, because they are so deceptively calorie dense.

        Matthew Caton wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • I think that if calories are an issue then they are mostly an issue of competition in which fat you are burning–the fat from your food or the fat you are taking out of your storage reserves. But I am not sure how that works. I know that once you turn your fat into ketones there is no way to turn them back into fat; either you are going to burn them or you are going to excrete them in some way. (This is the “metabolic advantage” that Atkins dieters sometimes talk about.) But the info I hear about how this works is never consistent. Some folks say you need to eat more fat to further encourage fat-burning; others say you need to cut back even though they’re not low-fat ideologues.

          That said, I wonder if your clients have looked at their overall micronutrient intake. You can’t expect a metabolism to work properly if you’re trying to cut your calories to the bone and are taking cheap supplements on top of it where you are taking any supplementation at all. I’ve gotten a little “push” just from adding things like K2 and choline into my regimen. K2 is known to increase insulin sensitivity by its action of contributing to osteocalcin production (true story, I’ve run into the research abstracts online); choline is known to treat fatty liver disease which also helps with metabolism and fat loss. Just two examples. And I see almost no one ever looking at this.

          Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
        • I don’t understand by caloric density in and of itself is a problem unless you’re trying to get in more fiber and water per calorie, which meat certainly does not.

          Nuts provide the saturated fats necessary that you crave from your meat and gives them to you in less toxic ways, and cuts down on the addictive protein and spares your poor kidneys and joints from the effects of excess protein metabolism. I guess what I’m saying is their a valuable tool to use if you want to cut down on meat consumption, and also, like a mother, I worry about your poor kidneys.

          Carrie wrote on February 19th, 2014
  32. I’m glad I’m reading that because I tend to over-indulge with nuts, thinking: “it’s alright, it’s primal anyway”.
    Very helpful!

    Amélie wrote on May 16th, 2012
  33. I’ve taken recently to eating a small handful of walnuts for breakfast (around 10ish). Easy to do at work, I get in regular 16 hour fasts, and that holds me through meetings until lunch. Glad to hear that eating them on an empty stomach may avoid the mineral absorbtion problem. Forgot about the soaking part tho…

    Trish wrote on May 16th, 2012
  34. Dr. Richard K Bernstein says when his patients are having trouble getting blood sugar down to normal values, it is often nuts that are causing this derailment.

    I have diabetes and have noticed a drop in blood glucose when I don’t eat nuts. And they taste so good :(

    Anne wrote on May 16th, 2012
  35. I find nuts are insanely filling , have you ever eaten a handful of “plain” nuts and thought OMG I’m starving?

    Not counting “seasoned” nuts because those are designed to make you eat more.

    Alex wrote on May 16th, 2012
  36. Raw cacao, macadamia, jungle peanuts, ramon nuts, and coconut meat in the protein shakes; coconut manna by the occasion teaspoon during the day. No issues.

    iuvenesco wrote on May 16th, 2012
  37. Don’t throw nuts in the air and catch them with your mouth in front of children. It’s a choking hazard for small kids, and maybe for adults as well.

    shannon wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • What if they wear a helmet?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2012
      • lol, with a face mask

        Tanya wrote on May 16th, 2012
  38. Unfortunately, eating nuts has the same effect on me as eating beans and whole grains. It feels as if I swallowed pins and needles.

    Steve-O wrote on May 16th, 2012
  39. To those comparing small quantities of nuts to beans… I thought one of the main reasons for avoiding beans (legumes) wasn’t just the phytic acid, but the lectins which bind to intestinal walls and cause gut damage/inflammation. My understanding is that nuts do not contain these harmful lectins?

    Greg wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • Nuts do contain lectins.

      Lisa wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • A search on “leaky gut” and “phytic acid” gets many hits. It would appear that phytic acid by itself could cause a leaky gut.

      Don Wiss wrote on May 16th, 2012
    • There are all sorts of lectins, both harmful and harmless. A lectin is simply a protein molecule with a sugar molecule tacked onto one end. They cause problems when they behave like antigens and latch onto your cells but not all of them do that.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if nuts have some that can cause issues in large amounts, though. Think about it–they’re seed foods, basically the nut tree’s babies. A nut tree can’t maul you to death like a mama bear, so she’s got to hit you through chemistry.

      Dana wrote on May 16th, 2012
  40. AWE NUTS! I probably eat too many nuts. They have become a staple snack for me and I eat them almost daily. I have Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts and sometime Macadamia Nuts in my desk at the office. Guess I need to pull back a bit from these. UGH. Good post though! THX

    Scott wrote on May 16th, 2012

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