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

The Definitive Guide to Nuts

Of all Primal-approved food categories, none is more bedeviling to even seasoned followers of the lifestyle than nuts. The questions never end. What is a nut? When you’ve got all these nut-like gymnosperms, drupes, and legumes masquerading as nuts, what even qualifies as an actual nut? Does it even matter? Or phytic acid. Is it or isn’t it a problem? And soaking — am I supposed to soak every type of nut, just some nuts, or none of them? Aren’t nuts really high in omega-6s, which we’re supposedly trying to limit or at least balance with our omega-3 intake? How do we reconcile that conflict? Why is “hazelnut” one word, while “pine nut” is two?

I’m out of breath, but this is a fairly representative sample of the nut-related questions I receive from readers. It is confusing, so today I’m going to give you the definitive guide to nuts. After today’s post, you’ll have a solid grasp of which nuts you should and maybe shouldn’t be eating.

Almonds

Remember when you discovered almond meal? Suddenly, the world got a whole lot bigger and brighter. You cranked out Primal pancakes, cupcakes, cookies. You dusted chunks of chicken with powdered almonds before plopping them in hot oil to produce a chicken nugget that even Loren Cordain would begrudgingly accept. And then you gained some weight back, and your stomach felt kind of funny, and you started worrying about your PUFA ratios. So the almond meal got thrown out, and the sack of raw almonds soon followed. But wait: almonds themselves aren’t the problem. Your inability to moderate your use of almond meal is the problem. Give almonds another chance.

In an ounce:

  • 163 calories
  • 6 g carbs: 3.5 g fiber
  • 14 g fat: 8.8 g MUFA, 3.4 g linoleic acid (LA), 1.1 g SFA
  • 6 g protein
  • 50% vitamin E
  • 22% vitamin B2
  • 31% copper
  • 18% magnesium
  • 28% manganese

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • Almonds are a thirsty crop, with 10% of California’s yearly water usage devoted to growing almonds.
  • Phytate levels are high in almonds. Phytate has both good and bad sides (binds minerals and prevents their absorption on one hand, may be converted into beneficial compounds in the gut and have anti-cancer effects  on the other), but a good compromise is to avoid a nut-heavy diet. Almonds are snacks and supplements, not the main course. Soaking and/or roasting almonds can also reduce phytate levels.
  • Raw almonds are hard to procure. Most almonds advertised as raw on store shelves have been pasteurized. Purchasing directly from the producer/farmer can help you obtain truly raw, unpasteurized almonds.

Can you soak? Yes. 12 hours.

Brazil Nuts

Lining the banks of South American rivers are towering trees whose falling fruits are large and hard enough to stave in skulls. On the bright side, cracking open the fruit reveals up to 24 triangular, hard-shelled seeds containing delicious, slightly sweet nuts. These are Brazil nuts, and they deserve a spot in anyone’s diet.

In an ounce:

  • 186 calories
  • 3.5 g carbs: 2.1 g fiber
  • 18.8 g fat: 7 g MUFA, 5.8 g LA, 4.3 g SFA
  • 4.1 g protein
  • 15% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 55% copper
  • 25% magnesium
  • 15% manganese
  • 988% selenium

Benefits:

The incredible selenium levels are the most obvious benefit to Brazil nuts, as unless you’re regularly eating animal kidneys and wild salmon, selenium can be hard to come by. But selenium is incredibly important for thyroid function, antioxidant capacity, immune function, cardiovascular health, cancer protection, and, you know what? It figures into just about every aspect of our health. And you don’t need to eat an ounce of Brazil nuts to get the benefits. A nut or two a day will get you adequate selenium.

Concerns:

  • The extreme selenium density of Brazil nuts causes some to worry about selenium toxicity, but I personally don’t. Extremely high doses of selenium in the form of Brazil nuts appear to be safe.
  • Phytate levels are high in Brazil nuts, but since you don’t need to eat very many to obtain the benefits, it shouldn’t be problem.

Can you soak? Unclear. Some say yes, some say no. Do a trial run of a few hours with a couple nuts before soaking the whole batch.

Cashews

Cashews also hail from Brazil, where they grow alongside a strange fruit called the cashew apple. The apple itself is actually edible and, from what I hear, quite delicious. The cashew shell, however, is lined with a poisonous resin called cashew balm. (Whatever you do, don’t put the balm on.) Cashews themselves aren’t poisonous, because they arrive on store shelves well-laundered and ready for consumption. This also means that raw cashews aren’t exactly raw. They’re steamed (to extricate the nut from the shell).

In an ounce:

  • 156.8 calories
  • 8.6 g carbs: 0.9 g fiber
  • 12.4 g fat: 6.7 g MUFA, 2.2 g LA, 2.2 g SFA
  • 5.2 g protein
  • 10% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 69% copper
  • 24% iron
  • 20% magnesium
  • 20% manganese
  • 15% zinc

Benefits:

There’s not a ton of research on cashews. What little exists isn’t very conclusive.

  • In one study, a high cashew diet had very little effect on markers of metabolic syndrome. If anything, blood glucose went up.
  • Another found that although a “prudent diet” containing cashews were higher in antioxidants than a control diet, it left serum antioxidant biomarkers unchanged.
  • One study did find that cashews improved baroreflex sensitivity, a marker of heart health.

On the whole, they’re probably fine to eat, but they aren’t superfoods.

Concerns:

Can you soak? Yes, 2-4 hours.

Chestnuts

Though they hail from trees and enjoy membership in the nut club, chestnuts are unlike most other nuts: they’re starchy things, low in fat and protein, more akin to a tuber than a mac nut. But they’re decidedly Primal. They’re low in phytate, high in flavor, and can be eaten raw, roasted, or steamed. The taste of a perfectly well-roasted chestnut is uniquely satisfying. Nutty, sweet, tender. Kinda like Christmas.

In an ounce:

  • 104.6 calories
  • 22.2 g carbs: 3.3 g fiber
  • 1.1 g fat
  • 1.4 g protein
  • 8% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 11% vitamin B6
  • 8% folate
  • 21% copper
  • 15% manganese

Benefits:

Nutrient powerhouses these are not and few studies into the health effects exist. I’m sure they’re perfectly healthy. Just don’t expect miracles.

Concerns:

  • The carb content is high, as chestnuts are more of a starch than a classic fatty nut. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat them. Just be aware of the carbs and treat them more like potatoes than almonds.
  • Chestnuts are really tricky to open. Anyone have a foolproof method?
  • Exploding chestnuts.

Can you soak? A half hour of soaking should make cooking and peeling easier.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts, AKA filberts, aren’t popular snacking nuts. Instead, you usually encounter them in desserts, baked goods, and chocolate confections. But according to archaeologists, hazelnut shells are “one of the most frequently recovered plant materials from Neolithic sites,” so humans have had an affinity for the filbert for millennia — and very likely much longer. As you’ll see from the list of benefits, I think our ancestors were really onto something.

In an ounce:

  • 178 calories
  • 4.7 g carbs: 2.7 g fiber
  • 17.2 g fat: 12.9 MUFA, 2.2 LA, 1.3 SFA
  • 4.2 g protein
  • 15% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 28% vitamin E
  • 54% copper
  • 17% iron
  • 11% magnesium
  • 76% manganese

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • Nutella is delicious, but it’s not an effective way to introduce hazelnut health benefits into your life. Sorry, guys.
  • Allergy, as always.
  • Moderately high in phytate.

Can you soak? 8-12 hours.

Macadamia Nuts

My favorite nut by far: the buttery, slightly sweet mac nut destroys all others. Sure, it may not have the densest nutrient profile. Sure, you’re not going to take care of your daily magnesium needs, and it has hardly any vitamin E at all (but that’s only because there’s no fragile PUFAs laying around requiring protection). But does every bite of every food we take need to be “optimized”? Or can it just be tasty and innocuous? And as you’ll see below, mac nuts do confer health benefits. I’ve yet to encounter a nut that doesn’t.

In an ounce:

  • 203.5 calories
  • 3.9 g carbs: 2.4 g fiber
  • 21.5 g fat: 16.7 g MUFA, 0.4 g LA, 0.1 g alpha linolenic acid (ALA), 3.4 g SFA
  • 2.2 g protein
  • 28% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 24% copper
  • 13% iron
  • 51% manganese

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • A little too good. Mac nuts are energy dense as well, so just tossing back handful after handful adds up quickly.
  • Allergy, although this is uncommon.

Can you soak? No need. I just soak them in my digestive juices.

Pecans

Another nut usually reserved for dessert applications, the pecan is underrated and underutilized as a snack nut. I get it. Pecans taste great encrusted in a syrupy shell and dusted with sea salt. They’re chewy, almost gooey when you roast them. Honey pecans pair marvelously with balsamic vinaigrettes and whatever leafy stuff you decide to eat them with. But I implore you: try a pecan without all the sugar. Try a raw pecan. No heat, no salt, just a raw nut in your mouth. Chew it, and savor the natural subtle sweetness. Pretty good, eh?

In an ounce:

  • 195.9 calories
  • 3.9 g carbs: 2.7 g fiber
  • 20.4 g fat: 11.6 g MUFA, 5.8 g LA, 0.3 g ALA, 1.8 g SFA
  • 2.6 g protein
  • 16% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 38% copper
  • 55% manganese
  • 12% zinc

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • Allergy.

Can you soak? Yes, for 6 hours.

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts come from pine trees, obviously, although most species of pine produce nuts too small to merit harvesting. But when you do get your hands on legitimate pine nuts, you’ve got the perfect ingredient for great pesto sauce; as much as the alternative nuts like walnuts or pistachios make a decent pesto, I still prefer pine nut pesto to anything else. As a snack, pine nuts are uncommon. But that shouldn’t preclude you from giving them a try.

In an ounce:

  • 178.3 calories
  • 5.5 g carbs: 3 g fiber
  • 17.3 g fat: 6.5 g MUFA, 7.1 g LA, 0.2 g ALA, 2.7 g SFA
  • 3.3 g protein
  • 29% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 33% copper
  • 16% magnesium
  • 53% manganese
  • 11% zinc

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • Pine mouth is a condition where everything you eat tastes bitter, metallic, and disgusting. In susceptible people, it occurs after consumption of pine nuts and lasts about two weeks. Not everyone develops it, and even people who’ve enjoyed pine nuts for years might experience it out of the blue.
  • Allergies.

Can you soak? Just a few hours.

Pistachios

I really like pistachios despite the common complaints. They’re funny-looking, the wizened old men of the nut world. Green, too, which maybe makes them the Yoda of the nut world. And it can be really frustrating when you get an entire bag full of shelled pistachios with a nanometer of space between the two halves. But darn it if pistachios aren’t worth the trouble.

In an ounce:

  • 159.3 calories
  • 7.8 g carbs: 2.9 g fiber
  • 12.9 g fat: 6.8 g MUFA, 3.8 g LA, 0.1 g ALA, 1.6 g SFA
  • 5.7 g protein
  • 21% vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • 28% vitamin B6
  • 17% vitamin K
  • 41% copper
  • 14% iron
  • 15% manganese

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • Allergy.
  • Those impossible-to-open shells are really just the worst.

Can you soak? Up to 8 hours.

Walnuts

Many people in the ancestral health community avoid walnuts. “Too high in PUFAs,” they say. “Unstable bags of linoleic acid,” they say. And I used to be like that. But while I’m not eating an inordinately large amount of them on a regular basis, and I am aware of the PUFA content, I enjoy a good handful of walnuts semi-regularly. The literature in favor of the walnut is too broad to deny. Also, they’re really good, especially freshly cracked walnuts.

In an ounce:

  • 185.4 calories
  • 3.9 g carbs: 1.9 g fiber
  • 18.5 g fat: 2.5 g MUFA, 10.8 g LA, 2.6 g ALA, 1.7 g SFA
  • 4.3 g protein
  • 50% copper
  • 10% iron
  • 11% magnesium
  • 42% manganese

Benefits:

Concerns:

  • The PUFA content is high, but should be okay in the context of a Primal eating plan low in seed oils and other sources of processed, refined PUFAs and replete in omega-3s.
  • In my experience, walnuts are quick to go rancid. Buy small amounts, preferably in the shell. If unshelled, store in the freezer. Actually, I like keeping a small stock of all my nuts in the freezer. Improves the texture, in my opinion.
  • Allergy.
  • Moderately high in phytate.

Can you soak? Yes, for 4 hours.

There is a downside to nuts, of course: the overconsumption problem. Nuts are easy to overconsume. They taste good. They’re Primal. They’re fatty, crispy, and slightly sweet. They’re nutrient-dense, so you don’t feel “guilty” eating them. But, throw in some salt and a bit of roasting and you end up with a snack fit for binges. What can we do?

Buy them in the shell.

Only the ability to consume handful after handful of calorie-dense nuts and seeds without breaking the bank or spending an hour cracking them and removing little bits of shell is a recent development. Buying nuts and seeds in the shell makes it work to eat them. Keeps them fresher, too.

Avoid nut butters.

Nut butters make massive overconsumption even easier and more unavoidable. It crushes and condenses what’s already a dense source of nutrients and energy into a delicious paste. And c’mon: those tablespoons are never just a tablespoon. Avoid nut butters if you can’t control yourself around them.

Overall, nuts are just good for you. Pick a nut, any nut: it probably doesn’t matter much. Nuts are consistently associated with lower risks of heart disease and all-cause mortality. They’re probably responsible for the good press PUFAs get in the literature. They’re all fairly rich with antioxidant compounds. They all seem to improve lipid profiles and reduce inflammatory biomarkers. Including nuts in a diet generally improves the nutrient content of that diet. As long as you don’t go crazy and get a large percentage of your calories from nuts, you’ll probably benefit from their inclusion in your diet. They are snacks and supplemental foods, not the main course.

So, folks, what’s your favorite nut? What role do nuts play in your diet? Or, if you hate all nuts and think I’m completely nuts for writing this post, tell me why. Either way, let’s hear what you have to say on the subject down below.

Thanks for reading!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Macadamia nuts are a glorious, dangerous snack.

    Erica wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Cashews are dangerous for me because I can eat way too may in one sitting. And after reading about them here, Mark — you dropped the balm on me. Now I only get them for an occasional treat.

      Elaine wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Sorry to say I love cashews but they hate me; in no time I get gout after eating a few, as does a good friend of mine.

        Rik wrote on April 23rd, 2015
    • Omg. Costco salted macadamia in these big containers. The worst and the best. Cant have them around.

      gwen wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • I love those! I just try to get 1/4 cup and put them away.

        Catharine Slover wrote on March 18th, 2015
  2. My favorite by far are almonds and pistachios. I have to keep a close eye when eating them or I can eat an entire bag in one sitting.

    Jacob wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Trader Joe’s sells raw unsalted almonds in prepackaged snack packs.
      Perfect when your kids want some for a snack! They can grab a pack themselves & when it’s empty they’re done! Can’t over eat ’em!

      Beth wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • I like buying these. They are tasty, but not so tasty that I’ll be tempted to overeat them.

        Marcia wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • These little packs are also great for traveling!! Filling and easy to pack away…

        Hw wrote on March 20th, 2015
  3. Pecans seem to be awesome to eat. That’s good because here in Oklahoma they are everywhere, both native and european. My great grandmas ranch has at least 50 mature pecan trees that dump a huge harvest every November which we have great fun gathering by the bucketful. Great post thanksgiving feast exercise! They tend to stay good in their shell forever also. Great in pesto. Thanks Mark for confirming what I’ve always felt in my heart.

    Julie wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Pecans are my fave, so soft and aromatic. I’d love to visit OK during pecan season! Sounds divine.

      Marie wrote on March 19th, 2015
  4. Lately I’ve been huge on the macadamia nut when I can afford it. I keep them in the freezer and grab a few as a treat a few times a day. So good!

    Summer wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Macadamias are definitely the most expensive around here too but I’ve found that Trader Joe’s has them at a great (low) price, the best ‘ve found by far.

      Tesee wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • I buy mac nuts in bulk– a 10 pound bag from the Big Island is only $100 (free shipping!), and they’re higher quality than anything I get in a grocery store.

        I was relieved after I finished one of those bags to find that it took me 10 months to get through it– good thing I had freezer space!

        Galactic Dev wrote on March 18th, 2015
  5. Try cutting a cross in to the chestnuts before putting them in the oven or roasting. It splits them wide open.

    Super Joe wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Trust me, this is the BEST way unless you have an open fire.

      When you cut across the chestnut make the cut somewhat deep as there is a second, thinner skin underneath. Then place your chestnuts in cold water for 10 minutes – drain and dry them. Microwave 2 minutes and the peel should peel off easily.

      Gun Penhoat wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Thanks, I’ll give that a try.

        I cut mine in half then put in boiling water and leave until it comes back to the boil

        Then I grab them out of the water and squeeze – most pop out easily

        Nick wrote on March 18th, 2015
  6. Cashew: nut or legume?

    Houston wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • I thought I read somewhere that they are actually the seed of a fruit.
      Anyone know for sure?

      Beth wrote on March 18th, 2015
  7. Macadamias are the BEST! With some ginger and dark chocolate.. the perfect treat!

    Livi wrote on March 18th, 2015
  8. Okay, what positive or enhancement to NUTS does the soaking process do for ups primal beings, please? Thanks! Dave “G”

    Dave wrote on March 18th, 2015
  9. What about Pili Nuts? They seem to have a pretty high saturated fat ratio and are relatively low in carbs.

    Don wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Pili nuts were my first thought as well! Hey Mark???

      Midge wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • LOVE pili nuts!

      Chupo wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Where do you guys get your pili nuts???

        Dee C. wrote on January 20th, 2016
        • We have Pili trees almost everywhere here in our town.

          Cha wrote on August 22nd, 2016
  10. This is a great addition to the knowledge base. I vote for Brazil nuts!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on March 18th, 2015
  11. Love pistachios, however, you need to be careful you don’t eat one of the little worms that I often find in them. I buy on the shell and have bought several different brands and I can almost always find a few pistachios with a worm that got roasted in the shell with it . The first time I discovered it I was horrified as it actually made it in to my mouth before I spit it out. I had the bad habit of opening the the shells with my teeth. Not anymore though! I now use my fingers and inspect each nut before eating. Now some of you maybe cool with some worms and think more protein! Lol!

    Veronica wrote on March 18th, 2015
  12. In my neck of the woods (literally) there are still some unblighted, nut producing American Chestnut trees growing though alas, the squirrels have beaten me to them every year. I’m going to make it a point to be there first when they drop this fall. Most, if not all commercially available chestnuts are from the blight resistant Chinese tree, at least in my experience. I’m curious to taste the native, roasted on an open fire or otherwise.

    Bob Stanton wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Little known fact….

      About 1 in every 4 trees from GA to NY before Columbus was a Chestnut tree. A major food source for early Americans.

      WC wrote on March 19th, 2015
  13. Them damn pistachios…just. can’t. stop. Ha ha. Raw pecans are my favorite with a salad. A fork full of good romaine, salmon, tomato and a pecan halve with red wine vinegar and olive oil is absolutely delish!

    Bryan wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • My all-time favourite combination too!

      kay wrote on October 31st, 2015
  14. I love cashews, but they are way too easy to overeat. Moderation in nearly all things is the key.

    NoClew wrote on March 18th, 2015
  15. what about peanut?

    mari wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Peanuts…….are not nuts! :) They are legumes (hence…way more harmful than true nuts)

      –> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peanut

      Regards,
      Vishnu

      Vishnu - thepaleobiker wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • oh yes, i was wondering about an effective way to neutralize phytic acid to make peanut butter safely.

        mari wrote on March 18th, 2015
  16. NUTS!!! Thanks Mark for a few reminders– NUTS can be addictive and add a ton of calories without really thinking about the volume one consumes.

    NUT BUTTERS– Taste wonderful but are devilish! It’s easy to keep scooping the spoon.

    Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!

    Pastor Dave wrote on March 18th, 2015
  17. I’m new to all this so how about peanuts?

    Drew wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Peanuts are not nuts – they’re legumes

      Dan Hig wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • I think a more apropriate name for them would be “nut-peas.”

      Chupo wrote on March 18th, 2015
  18. All nuts seem to trigger my IBS. Not sure why.

    Karen wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Peanuts are legumes.

      Dignlife wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • I know that. I am not eating peanuts. I said all nuts, not peanuts.

        Karen wrote on March 18th, 2015
        • I think they were trying to reply to Drew above.

          Paleo-curious wrote on March 18th, 2015
  19. Excellent write-up on nuts. Thank you for pointing out that after all, nuts should be considered snacks and ditch the nut butters. I am the guilty one here. My biggest nemesis is not sweets. It is nut butters. I have no control over them. Ever since I cut them out and eat nuts in measured portions, my daily diet is more in balance.

    ANN wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • +1
      I found upping my protein helped with nut binges.
      Salted nuts, and nut butters are gone in one sitting if I don’t have adequate protein.
      I find it easier to say no in the supermarket when protein levels are maintained.
      Otherwise, I almost go on autopilot and just buy and start eating them on the way home.
      When I first started primal, they were my go to snack because they were easier to find than a real primal meal. A very easy trap to fall in.

      Chris wrote on March 19th, 2015
  20. I carry an EpiPen for a known walnut allergy. Skin testing showed that I should also avoid cashews, pecans, and filberts as well as confirming the allergy to walnuts and hazelnuts. I knew that almonds were fine and was beyond thrilled to find out that macadamias are okay as well.

    Joan wrote on March 18th, 2015
  21. Thank you for the information on cashew allergy. I wondered why I have digestive issues with them, but reading that they often coincide with a mango allergy makes perfect sense. Mango allergies can coincide with latex allergy and definitely co-exist with an allergy to poison ivy and oak. It’s the urushiol oil…I never looked into it until now because it’s not severe enough that I break out or feel miserable, they just give me funky bowel movements so I don’t eat them much anymore. Well, now I won’t eat them at all, knowing that at any time they could cause a more severe reaction since I’m allergic to mangoes and poison ivy and oak.

    I appreciate your blog because I learn a lot every time I read it. Thank you for all of your research and the way you present it in a more digestible format.

    Diane wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • i cannot eat cashews either and i’m fine with other nuts. i get severe gastro problems very soon after eating them. i should just use them as my next colonoscopy prep.

      joanna wrote on March 18th, 2015
  22. What about beech nuts? There are a few mature fruiting trees near me and we occasionally scavenge a couple of cupfuls in the autumn – while very fiddly to open raw, they present a decent challenge and tasty reward after being lightly toasted. I know they are not so good in large quantities but not seen much mention about them in terms of a seasonal treat – is there any merit to them or should they be best avoided altogether?

    PaulR wrote on March 18th, 2015
  23. I love my almonds. 20 of those, a square or 2 of 85% dark chocolate and a glass of red wine makes for a nice Friday night dessert after a long work week. I do love my almond flour treats as well. Definitely easy to overuse/overeat these little gems though so have to keep a conscious eye on that. Just tried macadamia nuts for the first time. I’m not a lover of them and their price will keep me from buying them on even a semi-regular basis.

    JanaBanana wrote on March 18th, 2015
  24. Peanuts are not nuts…..they are legumes, which puts them in a totally different category.

    Sandy wrote on March 18th, 2015
  25. Perhaps Mark didn’t list peanuts because they aren’t really nuts. The alternative name of ‘groundnut’ might be a clue. They come from the legume family (beans and peas).

    Sadly, after decades of joyful consumption, I discovered I was intolerant of nuts. Hopefully I can reintroduce these delectable bombs-of-goodness back into my diet at some point in the future…

    In the meantime I celebrate your clear enjoyment of them, evident by your responses. :)

    Veronica Korczaik wrote on March 18th, 2015
  26. Hi ! I need your help ! I live in Brazil . I need to know one thing . The real thing . I am so tired of diets , losing weights . I already cut all the junk foods , all sugar , all wheat , gluten , I think I follow a PALEO cause I eat fruits but fruits raise the insulin . Honestly , very honestly I see through the bet many people say that I have to cut all the carbs . Fruits , vegetables . I improved a lot after removing forever these foods . Sugar , wheat and only eating good carbs and fruits , I never got flu . I love my meal made with coconut oils . We have plenty of avocados here I do not count calories . And when I get out of my track I just do a very low car and high fat for the next 3 – 4 days and everything is ok again . Well my question is : do I really have to cut my fruits ? Is it possible to live without carbs and which type of carbs can I eat without worrying about ?

    Luis wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • I have been following a Primal lifestyle for more than 5 years now. I don’t drink juice. It can deliver too much sugar too fast. But I go ahead and eat whole fruit when I want it. I will add that I’m not a huge fruit eater by nature, so I won’t binge insanely on fruit. But I do like to eat some of what’s in season. Avoid dried fruit unless you’re hiking or working outside, and you keep track of the amount you eat. To my point of view eating Primal is also about reducing the stress of fretting about food. So personally I would say go ahead and have a piece of fruit.

      Nancy wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • That’s it finally ! I think I found what I have been looking for . I have to watch what I eat but I dont have to behave like I am a lunatic , always worried about food . If I stay away from these junk food I have said this 80% . Fructose from fruits to overdo you have to eat toomuch and I don’t do it . I just wanna eat 2 a day along with my meal never with my empty stomach . Ok ? And I will eat avjcaods and coconuts cause these ones have few sugar . And what about chickpea and beans can I have it once a weak ? I have been following the non gluten non flour , low carb high fat PALEO for around almost a year and i am fine , but it’s kind of strick . I also don’t have milk cause of the lactose I prefer the cheese with low carb . I think I’m going right .

        Luiz wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Luis, eat LOTS of vegetables and eat fruit in moderation. You might be able to live without veggies, but I wouldn’t recommend it. They contain many nutrients that the body needs in order to be healthy. Don’t overdose on fruit if you are overweight; otherwise, fresh whole fruit is a healthful addition to the diet. If you are healthy you probably don’t need to worry about fruit raising insulin levels. It will normalize itself.

      Shary wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Thanks for replying ! I was really lost cause many pages tell me that I was on a wrong way ! I think I am In a right way . Come on ! I stopeed all the sweets , junk foods , sugars , sweetners , flours , wheat and gluten , grains which make the diet very strict what else can I do ? I try to eat avocado and coconuts everyday in order to avoid the fruits . I am a single guy ! I am not crazy for food ! I am just against starvation , being hungry , having to say no to everything . I must confess that I am still afraid of fat , going to a steak house is still a big fear but I i am losing this fear . Well ! I just wanna live happy without worring about my weigh the best thing about my modification in eating a low carb and high fat PALEO was the floral gut . No more leaking gut or irritable gut .

        Luiz wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Luis, you can still have fruits just limit the amount of fruits you have. One a day, one every other day but not at every meal. Also try and switch out and go for fruits that aren’t as high in the natural sugars like berries; strawberries, blueberries raspberries, etc. just read the ingredients on everything you’re eating and make sure there’s no extra sugar added or wheat or preservatives. Basically stay away from most premade stuff and go as natural as possible in your food selection.

      Janet wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Thanks for you reply ! The problem with me is to find the way not to make my life and diet very strict . The only carb source I have is fruits and vegetables . I don’t have grains although I miss some of them some times . I meam some time cause I am invited for friends houses and I can not choose the food . I like the non gluten grains like chickpea , beans ….

        Luiz wrote on March 18th, 2015
  27. This was very helpful. What about seeds? Pumpkin, sunflower, etc, Aren’t nuts a seed, or are they…..

    Donna wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Agreed – very helpful to have all this in one post. Thanks!

      I’d also like to see a post about seeds.

      Linda wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • +1
      Definitive guide to seeds please.

      Beth wrote on March 18th, 2015
  28. The first thing I eat every day is 1 oz. of macadamia nuts. Life wouldn’t be the same without them! After reading this article, I’m thinking about maybe adding in some brazil nuts and filberts. I always measure them out. When going on vacation, I take little baggies with me!

    Sheri wrote on March 18th, 2015
  29. I love all nuts, but pecans are my very favorite. We used to have two pecan trees in our back yard until Hurricane Fran took down all our trees. I really miss those super-fresh pecans!

    Paleo-curious wrote on March 18th, 2015
  30. Thanks Mark, very informative. I’m going to have to try some pecans. Presently eating macadamias and almonds. Those salted macadamias are like candy so I have to limit myself to about an ounce a day at most. Not to contradict what you’ve said but if you’re attempting to maintain or even put on a little weight then nut butters are a good option.

    haroldcrews wrote on March 18th, 2015
  31. I think with nuts really just moderate intake. I find I get sick of them if have too many. One thing I think Mark has mentioned before is to try and listen to your body’s signals : if you listen carefully I do think the body is generally smart and will hint when you’ve had enough. The problem is when our ‘minds’ take over and ‘tell’ us we want all this stuff we don’t actually want.

    A post on seeds would be welcome also : eg sunflower seeds (in the shell) are a big (huge!) thing in china as a snack. Healthy?

    Dan Hig wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • Sunflower seeds are good for you. They are high in vitamin E and various other nutrients. Like all nut and seeds, the downside is that they can be fattening if one overindulges.

      Shary wrote on March 18th, 2015
  32. Great article! My favourite nut is pecans! Here in Georgia we can get them fresh from the tree, and I have a local source who gets 12 oz packages to the market within hours of harvesting. A fresh pecan is out of this world! My lipid profile has always been good but once I started adding more nuts, it has become phenomenal!

    Kathryn wrote on March 18th, 2015
  33. Thank you for this very helpful guide. I was just thinking about this topic the other day. I like to sprinkle a small amount of nuts on top of a big kale and arugula salad that’s a favorite of mine right now. My favorites to toss in are pistachios and almonds.

    TRM wrote on March 18th, 2015
  34. Any info on sunflower seeds? I suppose they’re technically not a nut but they’re always categorized that way in my head and I love them!

    Tesee wrote on March 18th, 2015
  35. I enjoy & buy mixed nuts, to have variety in my diet, but i never eat the ‘peanuts’ in the pack because i increased my weight in my earlier years from eating peanuts including beer nuts .

    Paula wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • A handful of mixed nuts is a sublime treat. We always have a variety of nuts around our house. I keep them in the freezer for freshness, with only a small container left on the counter that will get used up in a day or two.

      Peanuts get a bad rap these days, but they, too, have health benefits. We have a 78-year-old family member who eats a large handful of peanuts every day (unsalted, in the shell). His weight is normal, he takes no meds, and he just left the house to go skiing. I don’t think peanuts have damaged his health any.

      Shary wrote on March 18th, 2015
  36. My daughter is allergic to cashews so we avoid all tree nuts at home. It’s hard because I love them! Both my husband and I eat almonds as snacks at work pretty regularly. But I was surprised to see here that cashews are such a common childhood allergy. I have not met anyone else with it. Thankfully it does not mean she’s allergic to peanuts. While I know peanuts are not optimally primal, but they are delicious, satisfying and convenient, especially for children.

    Tracy wrote on March 18th, 2015
  37. I forgot to mention hickory nuts. If you can find them, they have a delicious, sweet flavored meat. A disclaimer: they are a PIA to extract from the shell. I see a lot of concern in the comments section about overconsumption of nuts and nutbutters. Bear in mind that our paleo ancestors had to invest a good deal of energy and effort to get at the edible portion of the nut, at least most varieties, so overdoing it on nuts probably wasn’t a likely scenario for them.

    Bob Stanton wrote on March 18th, 2015
    • I have a few hickory nut trees in the neighborhood. I picked up a bunch one year (had to get up early to beat the squirrels ) but had such a hard time cracking their shell I gave up on them. I did notice the squirrels had no problem. Then I happened to get a large mortar and pestle. That sucker cracks the shell easily. Hickory nuts are quite delicious, as it turns out.

      Sharon wrote on March 18th, 2015
      • Good idea, Sharon! I never thought about a mortar and pestle for hickory nuts – I’ll give it a try.

        Bob Stanton wrote on March 18th, 2015
  38. Hi Mark – do I have to soak the nuts or can I soak the nuts. If it is not mandatory, what benefits do I get if I do soak them?

    Thanks! Brent

    Brent Calhoun wrote on March 18th, 2015
  39. Seeds in general are not optimal, especially oil from seeds due to high amounts of Omega 6, which most people already over-consume. If the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 does not get too divergent, then some seed products would be ok, but there are better choices, including some of the nuts mentioned here which have other benefits to compensate for presence of Omega 6.

    Mitchela C. wrote on March 18th, 2015
  40. I eat almonds as my only snack. My Dr. says almonds and walnuts are okay, but cashews are not. If trying to lose weight limit nut consumption to 1-2 ounces a day.

    I never eat roasted nut as nut oils that have been heated produce free radicals at very low temperatures from what I understand.

    Adam wrote on March 18th, 2015

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