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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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March 18, 2015

The Definitive Guide to Nuts

By Mark Sisson
207 Comments

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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207 Comments on "The Definitive Guide to Nuts"

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Erica
1 year 6 months ago

Macadamia nuts are a glorious, dangerous snack.

Elaine
Elaine
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Rik
Rik
1 year 5 months ago

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.

gwen
gwen
1 year 6 months ago

Omg. Costco salted macadamia in these big containers. The worst and the best. Cant have them around.

Catharine Slover
Catharine Slover
1 year 6 months ago

I love those! I just try to get 1/4 cup and put them away.

Jacob
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Beth
Beth
1 year 6 months ago

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!

Marcia
Marcia
1 year 6 months ago

I like buying these. They are tasty, but not so tasty that I’ll be tempted to overeat them.

Hw
Hw
1 year 6 months ago

These little packs are also great for traveling!! Filling and easy to pack away…

Julie
Julie
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Marie
Marie
1 year 6 months ago

Pecans are my fave, so soft and aromatic. I’d love to visit OK during pecan season! Sounds divine.

Summer
1 year 6 months ago

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!

Tesee
Tesee
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Galactic Dev
Galactic Dev
1 year 6 months ago

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!

matt
matt
1 year 6 months ago

I dont see the 10 pounds and free shipping from Big Island. can you provide the link please

Galactic Dev
Galactic Dev
1 year 6 months ago
Super Joe
Super Joe
1 year 6 months ago

Try cutting a cross in to the chestnuts before putting them in the oven or roasting. It splits them wide open.

Gun Penhoat
Gun Penhoat
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Nick
Nick
1 year 6 months ago

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

Houston
Houston
1 year 6 months ago

Cashew: nut or legume?

Beth
Beth
1 year 6 months ago

I thought I read somewhere that they are actually the seed of a fruit.
Anyone know for sure?

Livi
1 year 6 months ago

Macadamias are the BEST! With some ginger and dark chocolate.. the perfect treat!

Dave
Dave
1 year 6 months ago

Okay, what positive or enhancement to NUTS does the soaking process do for ups primal beings, please? Thanks! Dave “G”

Shary
Shary
1 year 6 months ago

I had that question too. I never soak nuts. I think they’re great just as nature provides them.

farmingchef
farmingchef
1 year 6 months ago

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/ the above link will give you the “nuts and bolts” about why to soak nuts, and other things Paleo folks do not consume.

Don
Don
1 year 6 months ago

What about Pili Nuts? They seem to have a pretty high saturated fat ratio and are relatively low in carbs.

Midge
Midge
1 year 6 months ago

Pili nuts were my first thought as well! Hey Mark???

Chupo
Chupo
1 year 6 months ago

LOVE pili nuts!

Dee C.
Dee C.
8 months 5 days ago

Where do you guys get your pili nuts???

Groktimus Primal
1 year 6 months ago

This is a great addition to the knowledge base. I vote for Brazil nuts!

Veronica
Veronica
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Chupo
Chupo
1 year 6 months ago

The little worms are perfectly Primal. No need to pick them out.

Mark
Mark
1 year 6 months ago

what Chupo said

Clay
Clay
1 year 6 months ago

Not sure why a roasted worm is a problem. Probably tasteless and full of nutrients. Most people don’t know this but the government allows quite a lot of bug parts in our foods. It’s impossible to keep them out so they just developed reasonable guidelines on “natural contaminants”.

This is a good summary:

http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/05/06/29/how_many_insect_parts_and_rodent_hairs_are_allowed_in_your_food.htm

You can read the government guidelines here (scroll down)

http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/sanitationtransportation/ucm056174.htm#CHPT3

I reality you are eating bug parts, parasites, rodent hairs, mold and lot of other things when you eat.

Maegan
Maegan
1 year 6 months ago

Yes…I’ve had the pistachios with worms burrowed in them. Something they do to the nut makes it really sour and inedible. I agree with the other comments about not minding the consumption of a worm, but I’m assuming they haven’t tried these particular worms…plegh!

Bob Stanton
Bob Stanton
1 year 6 months ago

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.

WC
WC
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Bryan
Bryan
1 year 6 months ago

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!

kay
kay
10 months 24 days ago

My all-time favourite combination too!

NoClew
NoClew
1 year 6 months ago

I love cashews, but they are way too easy to overeat. Moderation in nearly all things is the key.

mari
mari
1 year 6 months ago

what about peanut?

Vishnu - thepaleobiker
Vishnu - thepaleobiker
1 year 6 months ago

Peanuts…….are not nuts! 🙂 They are legumes (hence…way more harmful than true nuts)

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

Regards,
Vishnu

mari
mari
1 year 6 months ago

oh yes, i was wondering about an effective way to neutralize phytic acid to make peanut butter safely.

Pastor Dave
Pastor Dave
1 year 6 months ago

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!

Drew
Drew
1 year 6 months ago

I’m new to all this so how about peanuts?

Dan Hig
Dan Hig
1 year 6 months ago

Peanuts are not nuts – they’re legumes

Chupo
Chupo
1 year 6 months ago

I think a more apropriate name for them would be “nut-peas.”

Karen
Karen
1 year 6 months ago

All nuts seem to trigger my IBS. Not sure why.

Dignlife
Dignlife
1 year 6 months ago

Peanuts are legumes.

Karen
Karen
1 year 6 months ago

I know that. I am not eating peanuts. I said all nuts, not peanuts.

Paleo-curious
1 year 6 months ago

I think they were trying to reply to Drew above.

ANN
ANN
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Chris
Chris
1 year 6 months ago

+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.

Joan
Joan
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Diane
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
joanna
joanna
1 year 6 months ago

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.

PaulR
PaulR
1 year 6 months ago

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?

JanaBanana
JanaBanana
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Sandy
Sandy
1 year 6 months ago

Peanuts are not nuts…..they are legumes, which puts them in a totally different category.

Veronica Korczaik
Veronica Korczaik
1 year 6 months ago

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. 🙂

Luis
1 year 6 months ago
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 .… Read more »
Nancy
Nancy
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Luiz
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Shary
Shary
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Luiz
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Janet
Janet
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Luiz
1 year 6 months ago

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 ….

Donna
Donna
1 year 6 months ago

This was very helpful. What about seeds? Pumpkin, sunflower, etc, Aren’t nuts a seed, or are they…..

Linda
Linda
1 year 6 months ago

Agreed – very helpful to have all this in one post. Thanks!

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

Beth
Beth
1 year 6 months ago

+1
Definitive guide to seeds please.

Sheri
Sheri
1 year 6 months ago

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!

Paleo-curious
1 year 6 months ago

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!

haroldcrews
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Dan Hig
Dan Hig
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Shary
Shary
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Kathryn
Kathryn
1 year 6 months ago

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!

TRM
TRM
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Tesee
Tesee
1 year 6 months ago

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!

Paula
1 year 6 months ago

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 .

Shary
Shary
1 year 6 months ago
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… Read more »
Tracy
Tracy
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Bob Stanton
Bob Stanton
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Sharon
Sharon
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Bob Stanton
Bob Stanton
1 year 6 months ago

Good idea, Sharon! I never thought about a mortar and pestle for hickory nuts – I’ll give it a try.

Brent Calhoun
1 year 6 months ago

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

Mitchela C.
Mitchela C.
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Adam
Adam
1 year 6 months ago

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.

Clay
Clay
1 year 6 months ago

Killer primer on nuts. I eat plenty everyday – pistachios in the shell, walnuts in the shell, and sprouted almonds. Pretty much with every meal and for snacks. I bet a third of my daily calories are nuts with the rest going to vegetables, berries, eggs, coconut oil, fish oil, coconut milk, whey protein, and sweet potatoes.

Just like I always refused to believe the official warnings about eggs I ignored all the conflicting press about nuts. You just have to eat them for a little while to feel how good they are (unless you’re allergic).

Cathi
Cathi
1 year 6 months ago

sounds pretty similar to my diet, as a primal non meat eater, nuts are important part of my diet – just an excuse! I love them. We do soak almonds and walnuts, and pecans when we can afford them (expensive in the uk), for 24 hours and then put them in the dehydrator for 24 hours. This is a bit of a process but the flavour and texture is enhanced, while reducing the phytic acid considerably. This does not work so well with denser nuts such as brazils, hazels and cashews as they never properly dry out.

Clay
Clay
1 year 6 months ago

Yeah, not a lot of us primal oriented vegetarians (I don’t count my fish oil because I feel that its a biological necessity to get plenty of DHA an EPA and there really aren’t any potent vegetarian sources of these very important fats). It can be done and it’s pretty easy if you never cared for meat in the first place.

But yeah, it’s a great excuse to eat lots of nuts ;). Got to get our healthy fats and calories somewhere if you’re not eating pastured beef and big slabs of salmon.

Alma
1 year 6 months ago

I’m allergic to macadamia nuts :'(

Michele
1 year 6 months ago

I wonder if many of your readers know that macadamians are Australian bush nuts? They grew on my uncle’s farm in northern New South Wales when I was a kid and we used to smash them with a brick. Still remember their deliciousness!

Nancy
Nancy
1 year 6 months ago

Excellent article. Never met a nut I didn’t like! Although I do have some faves – pecans, pistachios, almonds and macadamias, not necessarily in that order. I’m also curious about the soaking comments. Why would you soak a nut? I’ve eaten them raw, roasted, and cooked with them all my life but never heard of soaking them….

Clay
Clay
1 year 6 months ago

Soaking them neutralized some of the chemicals that bind to minerals. So soaking (really just sprouting) increases digestibility.

B.U.D. [Bad Uncle Dave}
B.U.D. [Bad Uncle Dave}
1 year 6 months ago

Hey Clay, Thank you VERY MUCH! EXCELLENT! Thanks for providing the answer in a nutshell form 😉

David
David
1 year 6 months ago

Pine mouth: this is caused by cheap Chinese “pine nuts” of the wrong kind: Pinus armandii

The genuine Mediterranean pine nuts do not cause this. Then again, they cost a lot of money and are hard to find.

https://pinenutsyndrome.wordpress.com/pinenutsyndrome/

Nocona
Nocona
1 year 6 months ago

Nuts (all of ’em) are my #1 snack and have been ever since I was a little boy. I’m thinking that they even kept me healthy before going Primal. Did they save my life? Not sure, but I’d like to think that!

Susan
Susan
1 year 6 months ago

I have to keep my nuts at work because there is no way in hell they would survive more than a day in my house. My husband eats all kinds of nuts like other husbands drink beer or hog the blankets in bed. Almonds and cashews rock, but I’m off to Whole Paycheck (ahem Whole Foods) to pick up some Brazil nuts. Thanks for the great post!

John James
John James
1 year 6 months ago

For those impossible to open Pistachios..

If there is even the minutest opening, take a already cracked half shell, insert the pointy end into the impossible to open pistachio, and turn the key, wallla!

Karson
1 year 6 months ago

It doesnt sound like it would work, but it does every time!

No Almond Joy
No Almond Joy
1 year 6 months ago

Thanks so much for mentioning how much water it takes to produce almonds – over a gallon per individual almond. Very difficult to justify continuing to grow this crop on a large scale during the drought, given the number of communities in California (mostly poor farmworker communities) where wells have run completely dry or declining groundwater tables have concentrated contaminants and rendered the water undrinkable.

mcylk
mcylk
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, great idea. Let’s eliminate all the jobs for these CA farmworkers.

Clay
Clay
1 year 6 months ago

That sounds like a lot, but lets compare:

According to Mother Jones, it takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond. That’s quite a bit, but not as much as it takes to grow a tomato (3.3 gallons) or a single walnut (4.9 gallons).

Also, California grows 80% of the world’s almonds and almonds are its most lucrative crop.

So taken in context, it doesn’t sound so shocking.

Kay
1 year 6 months ago

@Clay. Thanks for your (always) thoughtful comments. Good to see you online here a bit more. What’s your favorite way to assist the planet in terms of clean water/ conscious use of resources?

I’m curious about anything you’re aware of, as I also love almonds and want to do my part to offset my consumption! (Kind of like carbon footprint offsets)

Jim
Jim
1 year 6 months ago

Oh my gosh, I googled this and was amazed at how much water it takes to grow a single nut! http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/02/wheres-californias-water-going

mcylk
mcylk
1 year 6 months ago

recent prospective, JAMA-published, study vindicates peanuts: Peanuts May Be Good for Your Heart http://nyti.ms/1CvIvgh via @nytimeswell

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