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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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May 16 2012

Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?

By Mark Sisson
294 Comments

Who 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.

TAGS:  nuts/seeds

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294 thoughts on “Nuts and Phytic Acid: Should You Be Concerned?”

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  1. I go nuts if I eat too much nuts! 😀

    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.

  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!!

    1. 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).

    2. 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

    3. A few years back a person posted a complaint that when Australians started using high Omega 6 sunflower seed oil the rates of melanoma skyrocketed. So I try to keep my Omega 6’s low, besides the phytic acid issue. I wonder if sunflower seeds have phytic acid in them like beans or just in the thin skin under the shell which gets discarded?

      1. That wouldn’t surprise me, the melanoma thing. I used to hear from low-carbers and especially Paleo eaters* that they suddenly weren’t sunburning as easily as they had used to do. Now, mind you, sunburn is caused by UV-B and melanoma seems to be triggered by UV-A and people can get it on parts of their body that don’t get sun. But the lack of easy sunburn tells me the skin has fundamentally changed, and probably for the better, just from these people watching their fat sources.

        [*Which I know, yeah, many Paleo eaters are not low-carb and in fact miss their carbs so much that they’re justifying going back to rice and other birdseed that seems “safe” to them. Doesn’t work so hot for me, savory carbs (or bland carbs that can be made savory) are a trigger food and I gain like crazy. Your mileage may vary.]

  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!

    1. Ha! Kick in the nuts, I love it. I mean I don’t love a kick in the nuts, but very funny…

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. I was sure you were kidding about the Paleo Bread, but a quick Google search shows you aren’t!

      1. 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.

  5. 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!

    1. 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..

      1. 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.

        1. Your belief is incorrect, and we know this from accounts of food preparation practices of Native Americans and other hunter gatherers. Pre-agricultural i.e. paleo humans weren’t chimpanzees who just walked around and ate everything raw. For at least tens of thousands of years before grain agriculture they lived in semi-nomadic camps, used tools, and peeled, soaked, dried, cooked, and boiled foods. Most meat was dried so that it would keep longer and not eaten raw. They also consumed starchy tubers as a dietary staple and even stone-ground and ate wild grains occasionally, though this goes against some paleo advocates’ vision of the paleo diet.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. me, too. this is an old post, but i’ve re-read it because i’ve been eating 1/2 – 1 lb of almonds per day, and really like them. i don’t want to cut back, and don’t know what to substitute instead!

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

    2. Happycyclegirl,

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

  8. 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.

    1. 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 …

      1. 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…

    1. 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).

      1. Yes, I agree. My comment is old, but I feel the urge to be the dissenter to this otherwise interesting article. In sum, I love soaking and dehydrating my nuts! They taste AMAZING (amiright?), digest easier to be sure and frankly are lovely crunchwise. So, fuck the phytic acid, I’m going to go soak some almonds!

      2. If I can’t afford a dehydrator, how else can I dehydrate nuts. Also, should sunflower seeds be soaked?

        1. You can dehydrate them by putting them on a roasting/baking tray in a VERY low heat oven for a longish time. (I’m not sure how long exactly).

  9. 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.

    1. 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…

    2. 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?

      1. If you research it as I did, many grains also contain aflatoxin depending on harvesting (cool, wet) conditions. Sulphorahane in broccoli blocks the aflatoxin which activates Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta in our cells.

  10. 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.

    1. All nuts sold in stores are pasteurized either with steam heat, or propylene oxide.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. It doesn’t matter if the nuts are steamed or chemically processed. Both processes turn the oils in the nuts toxic. The only way to get raw nuts is to order them directly from the farmer, who is allowed to sell 200lbs a day truly raw. The question is why is the government controlling this but not controlling the fact that manufacturers are mislabeling the nuts bu claiming they are raw?

    2. 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!

  11. 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.

    1. Yeah, never got why people think almond meal is healthy when it is basically oxidized omega-6.

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

        1. You know this site:http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/9/2973S.long, discusses the binding properties of phytates and says adding vitamin C to the flour to be baked neutralizes the phytic acid content so might this work with almond meal recipes? I’ll try your idea of soaking in vitamin C water. Good idea!

      2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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

  13. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

      1. I can’t wait until science “Jurassic Park’s” some Aurochs.

      2. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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!

    4. 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.

      1. …….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.

    5. 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.

      1. 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. 🙂

    6. 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.

      1. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  18. 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.

      1. Yes!! I love the stuff, just wish it was easier to get really good biltong here in the UK:(

        1. If you live in London, there is great biltong at the south African store in either London Bridge or Victoria station. Great stuff!

      2. I love biltong! Especially the lemon/chili one (don’t know if it’s completely primal, but yeah…well…still love it 🙂

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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

  22. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

    2. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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!
    🙁

  26. 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?

    1. the high carb count for rice and beans makes them off-limits for me.

    2. 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.

  27. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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…

  30. 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 🙁

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. Unfortunately, eating nuts has the same effect on me as eating beans and whole grains. It feels as if I swallowed pins and needles.

  35. 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?

    1. A search on “leaky gut” and “phytic acid” gets many hits. It would appear that phytic acid by itself could cause a leaky gut.

    2. 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.

  36. 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

  37. I suffered IBS symptoms nearly every day for as long as I can remember and it’s only recently that I realized that nuts are one of the contributing factors. I can’t even eat a tablespoon of them without getting doubling-over intestinal cramps the next day.

    So for me, nuts are categorized right in with grains and legumes, as things with a shell that make my belly hurt.

  38. Great point about actually having to crack/de-shell nuts before eating them. This would also cause you to feel the effects of satiety as you are slowly working to de-shell these balls of butter, as opposed to throwing a handful down your gullet and bypassing the onset of satiety. However, it’s a hell of a lot easier to find de-shelled nuts than shelled varieties these days. I just avoid them altogether…too expensive for the most healthful varieties, aka macs 🙂

  39. I’m going to have to vehemently disagree with the statement “Nuts are not meals themselves.” Anyone who states this has never had a package of Trader Joe’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans. I could seriously die eating these… and I very well may! 🙂

  40. Nuts are so dangerously addictive! Seems to be the case for so many of us. Fresh homemade almond milk I have found a little easier to tolerate. I just posted a recipe for that today.

  41. Blanched almonds I imagine have negligible amounts of phystc acid. Don’t most of the phytates remain on the skin?

  42. This is a timely post for me. I LOVE nuts and eat them regularly – probably more than usual since I went primal one month ago. Here is another reason to keep an eye on nut consumption, especially for cold sore sufferers: nuts are high in the amino acid arginine. I picked up that lovely virus on my hand somehow a few years ago. I get a painful recurrence regularly, almost monthly, especially when I don’t take my VERY expensive anti-viral medication. I got one last week (and was out of my medicine), so I started researching whether there is a dietary link to cold sores. As it turns out, a lot of people recommend a diet which is relatively higher in the amino acid lysine and lower in the amino acid arginine. I found this chart which compares the two for those who might also suffer from this lovely virus (nuts are at the wrong end of the chart): http://www.sandiegohomeopathy.com/downloads/Lysine_Arginine_Foods.pdf
    I have also started a Lysine supplement. It seems to be doing the trick while I wait for my anti-viral meds to arrive in the mail. Funny, my doctor didn’t tell me to watch what I eat – he just prescribed this medicine I’ve paid a ton for over the past several years.

  43. Dear Mark –Thanks for the suggestion of eating nuts separately from meals wherein you’re concentrating on getting your mineral intake (and absorbtion). I am one of those who goes way overboard on the nut butter. Though I am working on reducing the amount I’m consuming, I think that ensuring my mineral intake is high at my regular meals and the nut and nut butter consumed at snack time will help reduce the likelihood of losing the minerals. I hope that’s the case… I’ll stay tuned-in.

    Note: a recent blood test showed normal mineral levels, so even with my moderate-to-high intake, I must be timing it pretty well already.

  44. Oh my. I just started this way of eatting two weeks ago and have been eating a tin of nuts as I hate to stop and eat and rely on nuts throughout the day for snacking. I also made a great “granola” with nuts and coconut oil roasted in the oven and eat it with whole milk yogurt for breakfast. I have to rethink my menu big time!

    1. I relied heavily on nuts and nut butters and almond flour when I first started eating this way. I’m only a few months in and am still using them semi-regularly. If I tried to go 100% pure from the start, I never would have made it.
      If you’re just starting out, even eating a lot of nuts is probably a better change from what you were doing a few weeks ago!

  45. I think everyone is completely overreacting to eating too many nuts. I live primal for the most part and if I want 2 handfuls I’m not going to sweat it. Interesting article.

  46. Question … I thought that if I include nuts in my salad that it is supposed to help with nutrient absorption … is this not true?

    1. Olive oil will help with absorption too. Fats in general, really.

  47. I eat nuts in a smoothie for breakfast.
    1/2 (small handful) pecan, 1/2 Macadamia Nuts.
    2 table spoons Coconut oil
    15 or 20 blueberries and almond milk as the fluid.

    My question(s) – I don’t see Mac nuts listed? Any comments about them?
    And – soaking them for how long to remove the baddies?

  48. I’m with the Weston A Price group on this one – soaking the nuts overnight with a little salt eliminates most worries of phytic acid and doesn’t greatly affect the taste, nor does it take much time. Just soak and enjoy, it is the best of both worlds.

    Your point about them essentially being a condiment is spot on, though. If your nut consumption (including butters ndobedient baked goods) is really only an ounce or two per day, no

  49. hmm, I make myself a almond pancake almost every morning for breakfast… perhaps I should soak the almonds first before using them?

  50. Almond flours are ridiculous, and akin to vegans eating “meat substitutes”. Almond flour has the skins removed, which is where all the anti-oxidants in almonds are found. Again, almond flour is silly.

    A better alternative, if you can’t give up “grains”, is soaked, sprouted, fermented buckwheat. This eliminates almost all of the phytic acid. The sprouting increases vit c, vit e, beta-carotene.

    Makes good waffles, pizza crust, soft tacos, etc.

    1. I don’t fuss about antioxidants when I am eating food. I’m more interested in the mineral content of nuts than I am in the antioxidants. My bones will not fall apart without antioxidants, but they will if I don’t get my minerals.

      Nut flour isn’t remotely like fake meat. Flour is a plant-based food; nuts are plant-based foods. Not much of a stretch and if you look to traditional cultures you will find that several of *them* have made nut flours as part of their traditional cuisine. For example, several American Indian cultures used acorn that way.

      Vegan fake meat on the other hand is not at all animal based and is contrived from stuff that has nothing to do with animal foods. Huge difference.

  51. How do I tell if almonds are rancid? I buy 3 lb. bags of Member’s Mark California whole almonds (already shelled and not salted) from Sam’s Club but they don’t say on the bag whether they are roasted or pasteurized. They always look and smell fine (very little if any smell). The expiration date is about 6 months out.

  52. Buddy,

    100% of almonds sold in this country, unless bought locally directly from a farmer, are pasteurized either by propylene oxide or steam.

    Both of these processed actually increase some anti-oxidant properties. I haven’t found literature addressing the potential for steam pasteurization to effect the PUFA, but I would think that it would.

    As of 2007, and a couple salmonella outbreaks, all almonds are now pasteurized, but can still be labeled raw.

  53. i only buy pistachios in the shell – slows me down.

    more than a handful of nuts makes me feel like i’ve o.d.ed on something.

  54. I will pass this on to Mr. squirrel who I feed cashews to every day! He goes nuts for them,

  55. I remember the early sixties, when I was a young’un, it was common for middle class households to have a bowl of nuts and nutcracker in the living room for entertaining. Getting them open was hard work. Great way to avoid over-consumption.

  56. Unfortunately, there’s more danger than phytic acid. I ate whole almonds almost every day for a decade – until they cracked a tooth this winter and I had to have a root canal. Ugh! Thought I could never live without almonds, especially since going primal, but been off them for 3 months, not going back, and the bottom of my pocketbook has never been cleaner!

  57. I’m a primal girl, but I have to say that posts like this are what scare people away from Primal. I met a Crossfit instructor this weekend who surprisingly isn’t Primal/Paleo. We were talking about P/P and he said “The thing about it is that every week it’s something new to cut out because it’s going to kill you. It makes people scared to eat anything. I bet next week it will be ‘don’t eat nuts because they’re bad for you!'” Well, I guess he was sort of right, this week came and guess what post showed up. I’m all about being informed, but at this point it feels like nothing is safe to eat.

    Plus, how big of stomach’s do you people have, lol? Who on earth can eat 4 tortillas filled with meat, beans and rice all in one meal? I’d explode 🙂

    1. “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.”

      Go ahead and eat nuts in moderation. He didn’t say not to. 🙂

    2. > posts like this

      Like what? Thoughtful, nuanced, well-researched? That basically says “nuts are fine in moderation; you shouldn’t get the majority of your calories from them; but then again nobody does that”?

      > are what scare people away from Primal

      Then they’re not reading closely enough.

      So where does your friend the Crossfit instructor get his nutritional guidance? Does he eat wheat? If so, isn’t that alone enough to discount his opinion as at least not in sync with yours, and at worst just totally worthless?

  58. Anyone else think this whole Primal thing has jumped the shark? This is bordering on OCD and anorexia. Nuts? Who cares. Eat em or don’t. It’s not going to matter much either way. Haven’t been on this site in a good year or more, as this entire topic makes my eyes glaze over now.

    1. > Anyone else think this whole Primal thing has jumped the shark?

      No.

      > anorexia

      ITYM “orthorexia”.

      And for some, it might be. But for most, probably not. Mark always stresses “be sensible”, and most Primal folks probably are.

      > Nuts? Who cares. Eat em or don’t. It’s not going to matter much either way

      Except that clearly it could.

      1. I was referring to agreeing with Jake. I should have mentioned that. If you look at the post above yours Jake, you’ll see my response to the blog post.

        1. I’m not buying the phytic acid concerns but hope others do so there will be more nuts for me. My faves are hazelnuts followed by macs and then almonds. I generally eat them raw and never get stomach distress from them …never…not even after eating jumbo amounts. Nor do I get the knee/joint pain I get after eating grains. Nor do I get the bloated feeling or weight gain that I do from grains despite grains being far lower in calories. So something else is in grains for me that my body does not like and it sure isn’t the phytic acid. Nuts do however keep my bowels happy and regular. Soaking is for those with weak digestion. What a bother otherwise…Ditto for obsessing about eating nuts away from other foods to purportedly avoid blocking minerals…The only reason I can see to enjoy nuts in moderation a la one small handful per day is for budget reasons.

    2. I can see where you might feel that way, but as someone with an extremely weak digestion and no colon due to ulcerative colitis, concerns like these are legitimate, and could mean the difference between blood/cramping and a happy gut. I envy all of you who can be so carefree.

      1. Hi Alysa,

        Isn’t it the high fiber content of nuts that make them problematic for those with ulcerative colitis rather than the phytic acid?

        My brother has ulcerative colitis and doesn’t do well with much fiber despite having had the surgery. His case is relatively mild and the surgery alleviated most of his symptoms but fiber is still an issue. I had a boyfriend years ago who nearly died from severe ulcerative colitis. He was slender to begin with but lost so much weight that he looked skeletal and had to miss school for much of one year. He had several surgeries but could not seem to tolerate any fiber at all. Even following a strict, very low fiber diet, he fought the cramping and watery, loose stools.

        1. No, it’s definitely not just fiber!! For instance, white wheat flour tears me up, though it has next to no fiber. Obviously, it’s the gluten. With other grains and nuts, I can’t say for sure whether it’s the phytic acid, or anti-nutrients, or lectins, or what, but these toxins that are found in foods can definitely be detrimental to those with sensitive guts.

  59. I don’t want to sound like a “Mark Groupie”, but darn! I’m always so impressed with how well he has researched, written and explains his topics, and nary a misspelled word…ever. Thanks again for all your insight and this commentary on the subject of nuts has helped me feel better about the adding them to my diet as my “on the fly” snack.

  60. anyone know where pecans or macadamia nuts rank on this list? those are my nuts of choice.

  61. Thanks for the info. I will be sure to eat nuts only as a snack and not with my meals.

    What about seeds? Sunflower seeds? Pumpkin seeds? Do they have phytic acid?

    1. I’m guessing all seeds do. It’s a way of storing their phosphorous for the baby plants until they can get roots established. Just so happens it also takes a toll on any un-adapted animal that eats large amounts of them, sort of the plant kingdom’s equivalent of “MAMA BEAR SMASH!!!”

  62. Thanks! Great great great information. I’m one of those people who can eat nuts for meals. Wow! Gotta cut back on my nuts and almond butter.

  63. Nuts and seeds are awesome, but I also believe we should be obtaining them in their shells, the way our ancestors would have obtained them. This would no doubt lower our phytate consumption, but would also lower the high amount of omega-6’s we would be getting.

  64. Soak the nuts in salted water for 8-12 hours and then rinse them and put them in the lowest temp in your oven for 8-12 hours. I even do this overnight.

    Hazelnuts don’t have any phytates in them so they don’t have to be soaked.

  65. Has anyone yet to find if macadamia nuts have a lot of phytic acid?

    There are a few people saying no, but haven’t found much on the topic.

  66. The article mentions brown rice having 840-990 mg of phytic acid. Anyone know about white rice?

  67. Pop a few almonds in you mouth and a small piece of good chocolate. Yum.

  68. Thanks for this great article – I’d read previously that nuts contained phytic acid AND that phytic acid can be beneficial. I was a litte confused to say the least, considering that phytic acid is one of the many good reasons not to eat grains. But Mark is right – nuts aren’t meant to be a meal unto themselves, at least not day-in day-out. Sometimes I eat a lot of nuts, in Paleo breads/cakes/trail mix etc – sometimes I don’t eat them at all for a few weeks. I don’t know if anyone else has the same thing, but I feel the effects if I over-do the nuts, just feel kind of ‘off’. Anyway for me it’s all about balance, just like with other ‘condiments’, like dark chocolate, red wine, fruit, honey, dairy etc. All can be beneficial, just don’t over-do it 🙂

  69. I’ve dehydrated walnuts after soaking them and I find them to be more interesting. Guess you could toast them too, but I like the simplicity of leaving them in the dehydrator.

  70. I know everyone is thinking it….but I’m going to say it….life wouldn’t be the same without my nuts!

  71. I’ve learned that nuts don’t do my body good. As Robb Wolf suggests, I’m better off treating them as a condiment, something to put on my main course but something I should not consume in large amounts. It’s good to see that I’m not crazy for not doing the almond flour thing. I’ve noticed that sometimes Paleo/Primal people try to find substitutes that are just like grain products, instead of finding good, satisfying food to nourish themselves with. Too many ‘muffin’ recipes and the like can lead to overindulgence in something we should be careful about.

  72. What do you think about the phytic acid content in almond milk? Do you have any idea how much phytic acid would be in say 8 oz?

    1. Almond milk is mostly water and stuff like locust bean gum, gellan gum and sunflower lecithin – fillers. It’s a waste of money in my opinion!

  73. I have never found macadamia nuts raw…only roasted. I understand that when nuts are roasted, they cannot be soaked afterwards. Anyone have comments on this ?

  74. Hazelnut is very important for a healthy diet with the nutrients it contains. 634 g nuts provides 100 calories of energy. 2.8-7.9% of dry matter hazelnut ‘u the total sugar. Total sugar, 90% of our form of sucrose. Glucose and fructose, while 1% has a share. 1-3.6% of dry matter, its GDP is starch. Hazelnut organic acid is malic acid the most. Cellulose and pectin compounds are about 1-3% of the nuts. Hazelnut protein content varies between 10-24%. 100 g of hazelnut, a person’s daily protein requirement is 22% percent to meet. Due to its high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, nuts, and a positive impact on the cardiovascular system by preventing the rise of cholesterol in the blood, heart, and has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. Fatty acids are oleic and linoleic acid as the maximum. Reducing blood cholesterol level of oleic acid, linoleic acid has inhibitory effect of the intravascular contraction. A special feature of hazelnut oil, it decreases the absorption of cholesterol from the intestine absorbs. Minerals (Fe, Mg, Cu, Mn, K, P, Zn and Ca)-rich nuts, a nutrient that is very important in terms of bone development and health.

    Hazelnut vitamins B1, B6, and vitamin E content of natural antioxidants, then the second best source of other vegetable oils. With the consumption of 100 g hazelnuts 33% of the daily vitamin B1 thirds, vitamin B6 of 35% and vitamin E’s 24% funded. Amino acid was also rich in nuts, a kind of fruit. For a balanced and healthy diet, daily consumption of 100 g hazelnuts are quite useful.

  75. I’ve found that if I use nuts as a snack or drink nut milk – I feel like I’m starving to death and no matter how much I eat I never feel full. I used to eat a lot of nuts, until we went away for a few days and I didn’t take any nuts – I wasn’t hungry or “snacky” while gone. So I guess they don’t really work for me. At home I usually snack on some leftover meat, vegetables or just don’t snack.

  76. Adding 10 macadamia nuts as a snack sometime during the day every day has been both a great way to help me control hunger and I believe is responsible (along with some primal eating) for lowering my cholesterol naturally these last few months!

  77. Should we drink unsweetened coconut milk as opposed to unsweetened almond milk?

  78. Good article, I think we do tend to worry way to much sometimes. However I was wondering why you did not mention the soaking and dehydrating as a good option, for those who consume more nuts and seeds than others. You mentioned the weston a price ers briefly but, not as a viable option. I think its a good way to bridge the gap.

  79. I’m glad Mark addresses this issue – I read Chris Kesser’s take on nuts and thought “Oh, crap, more contradictory diet info!” Seriously, there are SO many published paleo recipes that call for nuts, nut flours, nut butters, etc. (including Mark’s own recipe book) that it is not unreasonable for folks to be misled.

    I think moving forward, and in future editions of Mark Sisson books and blog content, this nut-phytate issue should be clearly addressed. Truly, incorporating the best available information into publications is the way to go.

    Kudos for accepting the new info and not getting hung up on ego!! The Paleo community will benefit! 🙂

  80. There a bunch of inconsistency in this article about the use of grains, just look at the Mexicans way of living, the Chinese, Japanese, etc. as far as I know there is not a mass problem in demineralization in those cultures… be careful with conclusions without reasoning…

    1. It took about 3 seconds to find this reference Luis. I would be careful about making sweeping generalised statements before you had thoroughly researched them yourself.

      1. Hi, Brad. If you had a hyperlink in there (“this reference”?) it didn’t come through. Thought I’d let you know.

  81. My head is falling into my hands at my desk right now!! I eat WAY more than a handful of nuts each day. Heck I have a nut dispenser on my counter top! I also eat nut butters and use almond flour in tons of Paleo recipes. Gonna have to rethink things!!

  82. I posted this on another article and wanted to post here too, because I haven’t really gotten any feedback:

    I’m so confused about soaking cashews. I’ve heard no more than 2 hours, and I’ve heard no more than 7. I’ve heard you need warm water, and I’ve heard that overnight in the fridge is fine. And I was pretty sure about using salt, until I saw this from the FAQ at http://www.westonaprice.org:

    Q. When soaking nuts, why is the salt needed?

    A. The salt helps activate enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors. For grains, we soak in an acidic solution to get rid of phytic acid. Nuts do not contain much phytic acid but do contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors. The method imitates the way the native peoples in Central America treated their nuts and seeds–by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them.

    If the problem with cashews is the phytic acid, should we soak in an acidic solution? Would an acid AND salt work?? I’d love some speculation on this subject, even if there are no definitive answers. Nuts aren’t always fantastic in smoothies, but cashews are amazing, so I’d love to figure out how to make them healthy (:

    Read more: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/is-it-primal-8-foods-scrutinized/#ixzz1v4aezZFz

  83. I have 2 questions:

    #1 – Why can’t we eat peanuts? I understand that they are legumes, but I personally eat them the same way that is recommended here for nuts (a few at a time, not very often, not with other foods). So, why is it that peanuts are bad when eaten like this but brazil nuts, etc. are okay?

    #2 – Are the nuts purchased at a fruit and vegetable stand raw? Are they pasteurized? They are not cooked and are in the shells. The ones that
    I buy are a mix of walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

    Sorry for the rather asinine questions. I’m new to the whole Primal Eating thing!

    Mike

  84. OH no 🙁
    I eat nuts and seed with oil as a lunch time meal and then raw veggies with meat at night, if I cut out nuts I will not be eating much at all!!!

    I usually eat several raw almonds, several half walnuts, 4 brazil nuts and a handful of macademias daily with seeds and oil..

  85. I have a hypothesis that has been circling around my head for months now…

    A few months after I started eating, in my own words, “the healthiest I’ve ever eaten”, I started to get severe acne. At that time, eating healthy to me meant eating something along the lines of a conventional healthy diet, which included “healthy fats” (i.e. almonds), brown rice, beans, various kinds of meat, fish oil supplements, and a multivitamin. I have always been slim and I exercised regularly. I tried to understand what was causing my acne, which meant going to more than one doctor and getting tested for any hormonal issues, which always came up negative.

    Still suffering from pretty bad acne, I found information about taking Zinc supplements both on this site (the acne post) and on acne.org. I decided it was pretty low risk and got some capsules. Well, they worked. What I have now is very mild compared to what I had before. I noticed a difference in a week, which is something I hadn’t noticed with anything else I’d tried before. After reading this article, I am again wondering if it wasn’t a coincidence that I was eating “healthy” and that I got very bad acne. Could I have caused some kind of deficiency or allergic reaction in my attempt to eat foods that were supposed to be good for me? Probably. So here’s my take:

    Nutrition is extremely complicated and we are only beginning to understand its complex interaction with the human body. Reading that food X is good for you and then loading up on said food can backfire. It is entirely possible that food X was good in the population scientists studied only because it was prepared a certain way, or because it was combined with food Y, which neutralized its deleterious effects. Reasoning something along these lines I think can lead you down dangerous paths:

    “Well, population A is healthy, and population A eats a lot of B, and B has nutrient C, so eating a lot of things with C will be good for me.”

    My 2 cents? Moderation is key.

    1. I don’t even know what “moderation” means. “Balance” is probably a better word, but NOT in the current mainstream sense of “balanced diet” where you get X number of foods from group A and Y number of foods from group B. More like, “Eat more of the foods that contribute to your health than the foods that take away from it.” Unfortunately you’re not going to get a straight answer about that from the modern so-called food “culture.”

  86. I don’t know man. I find it very hard to get enough calories from meat, veggies and some fruit. Thus nuts are a great way for me to get more calories.

    I have at times eaten upwards of 1/2-1c nuts per day for their calories. I’ve tried to cut back partly due to the reasons listed above.

    So, some people may get a lot, but in the end you’re right. I doubt many people are going crazy on eating too many nuts, after all most Amercians still fear them a little because their “fatty”

  87. I would be interested to hear your views on this paper that I just read (flagged by Seth Roberts)suggesting that IP6 is actually a good guy with many characteristics of a vitamin. This paper suggests that phytate has potent anticancer potential through it’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing activities.

    1. IP-6 has some interesting info n relation to cancer, at least in dogs. When I was researching about our dog with cancer I ran across some good info on it.

    2. FYI, they’re trying to develop phytic acid into an anticancer drug. I’m very, very leery about any purported benefits they may be trumpeting. They say that about every drug they try to develop, and then we find out too late it was all smoke and mirrors and people are getting hurt or worse.

  88. Great post…I’ve been taking 2-3 Brazil nuts a day for the selenium. My dad is eating them for the same reason, but by the bowlful. Hopefully he’ll cut back after he finds this article in his inbox. Also interesting to see the phytic acid difference between brown and white rice: it’s just astonishing.

    1. I would maybe mention to your dad the potency of Brazil nuts. If he’s eating 10 Brazil nuts a day, he’s getting 1369.3% (958.5 mcg) RDA of selenium, which is not good being that the UL is 400 mcg.

  89. I feel so much better when I nix the nut habit. They can be quite high in copper (displacing zinc), negatively affect my skin, are prone to rancidity depending on the source/PUFA content and send me into a loco nut-munching spiral of calorific despair. Can roll to macadamias. Aussie pride yo.

      1. Have you found any reliable information on if macadamia nuts are high/low in phytic acid?

        Would be great to know being that I would like to make macadamia nuts a staple in my diet.

  90. Wow, I’m definitely in the minority, I really don’t like nuts. They don’t cause me any discomfort (as far as I know, since I rarely eat them), but they just aren’t satisfying at all to me. The only exception might be macadamia nuts, but only when they’re covered in chocolate, and I only get those for Christmas.

  91. Mark apparently never met me. I think I am addicted to nuts — no, seriously, I know I overeat nuts. I am lucky if a small jar of almond butter lasts more than two days. A bag of trail mix will be gone in one sitting. I buy those prepackaged Planters mixed nuts, the ones with the macadamias, because the pre-portioned ones have more macadamias than the tins, and I will eat four of those bags in one sitting.

    I want to lean out a little bit, and I know there’s so much anecdotal evidence on this site about how nuts impede weight loss, so maybe I need to go cold turkey and stop eating nuts until I can make them just a snack.

  92. YEY … I’ve given up so much I was hoping I didn’t have to give up nuts as well. I’m a huge fan of walnuts as an in-between snack. Like to think they are nourishing my brain ….
    Thanks for all the incredible information.
    So much to digest (pardon the pun – but this is all very new to me)
    Erica

  93. I’m like the rest of the people, If i bring em….its like that movie “gone in 60 seconds” around raw cashew, discipline is not an option.

  94. What about Macademia nuts? I could live on them! I am sure I eat too many. They weren’t
    On the list. Thanks!

  95. It’s a wonder that the human race has managed to survive as long as it has. Clearly God created every food except maybe raw broccoli and dandelions for the express purpose of killing us. It wasnt just the apple in the Garden of Eden we needed to watch out for, it was every damn thing in it. Or so some of you phytic acid, omega fat counting, mufu-pufa nutters seem to believe. It started back in the 70s with people counting calories and now we’re expected to determine whether our diets have the proper fat ratios, too much phytic acid, too much or the wrong ratio of cholesterol, sodium intake, enough but not too much vitamins and so on. Here’s my philosophy – eat what you’re hungry for and exercise. Forget the rest of the crap. You people arent just driving yourselves crazy, you’ve already arrived.

    1. What if I’m hungry for three large servings of McDonald’s fries a day?

      (I’m not really. But what if?)

  96. You can soak nuts overnight in salty water, so i hear, to reduce the bad stuff. Then roast them. I’ve tried it and the nuts taste just fine after so doing. I’m not sure if it makes them a whole lot better for you.

  97. I’m glad the problems with nuts were finally, clearly articulated. Out of the 20 people I know personally who are trying to eat Primally or Paleo, they all rely heavily on nuts, daily! For snacks, butter in smoothies and on fruit, roasted for crusts, and subbing in daily Paleo muffins and pancakes.
    Nuts seem to be the lynchpin for those struggling with the transition. With nuts, they get to have crunch and salt and baked goods and “bready” things. It is dangerous to assume this community only has a nut or two. From what I see in the real life patterns of people feeling their way along, they rely on a dangerous amount.

  98. I love nuts. I have eaten almost a whole bag of trail mix in one sitting. The chocolate plus almonds and cashews are like my crack. I just bought some almond butter the other day and am throug the jar.

    But they definitely prevent weight loss and cause gain. Also i noticed that i wasn’t feeling well with too mich nut consumption. I just need to say No to most nuts of all forms. Sad as they seemed healthy and were fun to snack on.

  99. Good article. But the point is moderation. Just like a glass or two of wine can be good for you a bottle can be deadly.

  100. Somebody told me that it is better to take 5-6 Almonds (Badam) everyday before going to Gym. I advised my son (16years) also to do the same before going for work out. Was my advise wrong?

  101. Mark,

    Great blog! I really needed to hear this, because I do eat waaaayyyy too much nuts…simply love them! 🙁

    Ok I will make sure I don’t have a 10lb bag laying around to snack on.

  102. Wow, am I happy to read this post, just the sort of thing I needed to read! I’ve been way overdoing it on nuts…Yesterday alone I had over 1 lb in one sitting!! Thankfully I’m not overweight, but doing this every other day doesn’t seem like such a good idea, either…:P) I think I’ll have to give them up completely for a while to kick the habit! Also, for others in similar shoes, when you eat so much of them, their carb content adds up to a significant amount as well (especially cashews, I think they are the most ‘sugary’ nut there is).

  103. Well this was a good article for me to read. I have suffered from low iron (before going gluten free), and I always find info like this really interesting. I have a bit/massive weaknesses for almond butter (used to be peanut) so I try not to buy it as ill eat it in a week! This info will make me think twice! What about coconut flour?

  104. I eat a handfull of nuts every meal. Around 9 to 15 nuts each meal which makes almost a kilo in a week. Would that be to much then?

  105. I think we are all massively over thinking this subject. Grok would not have even considered any of the potential health risks be they big or small. He would have thought ‘FOOD’ end of story. Rather than would Grok have eaten this we should more along the lines of HOW would Grok have eaten this. Certainly with the best will in the world I cannot imagine him turning to his family first thing and saying “Does anyone fancy almond pancakes for breakfast?” As a few here have mentioned , Groks family as hunter gatherers would come across nuts occasionally and enjoyed them when they did. If we copy this kind of intake then I don’t see we can go very wrong..

    1. Damn, there goes that delicious cream, port and onion sauce my husband made for last night’s liver.

    2. The question is, how often is occasionally? Once a day, once a month, once a year? Vastly different results.

  106. I use nuts for breakfast (as a topping over my banana and apple honey meal). Is that a bad combination?

    What Mark is saying is that you don’t have to overdue it, but I’m not sure which combinations are not wise.

  107. Ah, but they DO eat multiple handfuls of nuts. Try as I might to put a few grains of something into a recipe, I get yelled at for not being “primal” and trying to poison her…but she’s perfectly fine eating half a jar of nuts!

  108. Raw nuts that have been soaked and dried in a dehydrator (no higher than 115 degrees) are amazing. This process neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors naturally found in nuts. You’ll notice the difference right away. And yes, they are a snack not full meals.

  109. I literally don’t eat too many nuts because it annoys me that bits always get stuck in my teeth and I have to spend a minute rinsing out my mouth of nut bits. Other than that, I love saltless, shelled sunflower and pumpkin seeds 🙂 and almonds.

  110. On or off paleo I have a heck of a time with nuts, faux and otherwise. They seem to trigger awful hand eczema (dyshidrosis). It started with peanuts, even a small amount, and now includes more than a handful of any true tree nut. Allergy tests are negative so I’m down to either chromium/nickel imbalance (per pubmed) or some near-identical protein thing I haven’t found any real science for. So, seeds only for me.

  111. I was eating about 1 cup of almonds everyday as a staple. It took a while to figure it out, but my scalp begin to develop small scabs. I stopped eating the almonds and the scalp thing cleared up. If I start to eat almonds again, it comes back.

    I attributed the problem to the high omega 6 content. Now, having read about phytic acid, it seems more likely that it was the cause. In any case, I am an example of what happens when one makes almonds a staple.

  112. Buy nuts AND SEEDS correctly presoaked and dried on the web. Wilderness Family Naturals is one source. Other companies may have them but mix them in their product line with nuts and seeds NOT soaked and dried so read carefully. Nourishing Traditions Book has 5 pages on different nut and seed soaking recipes that makes the cost of the whole book worthwhile. Rosemary, butter, etc. for roasting AFTER the soaking and drying.

  113. For almonds, does a significant amount of the phytic acid reside in the skin? I buy blanched almonds because I seem to digest them better.

  114. I love nuts. I buy the Trader Joe’s Go Raw Trek mix. What about the raisins? I also add dried cranberries. What about those?

  115. I love nuts! All kinds. I buy the Trader Joe’s Go Raw Trek Mix. What about the raisins in it? I also add dried cranberries to it. What about those?

  116. I don’t eat a lot of nuts on their own, but when I first started PB I was baking every week with almond flour because wanted to compensate for missing bread and sweets. I now bake about once a month, because every time I bake I also way overeat, which not only causes digestive issues but makes me feel like crap in general.

  117. Is phytic acid carried over completely into the processed forms of nuts, such as, say, almond milk? Or is much of it lost in the process?

  118. Mark–Good article. But doesn’t your chart list grains and legumes by dry weight? Dry weight of 100 grams is quite different than a cooked 100 gram serving. Oatmeal is the only dry grain listed in the latest Bowes and Church (food comp tables) 1 cup dry oats weighs 87 grams, 1 cup cooked weighs 234 grams.

  119. Any data on macademia nuts?
    How about eating 85% or 90% cocoa chocolate after a meal?

  120. The more pertinent question is not whether it’s primal to eat nuts but whether it’s nuts to eat primal.

  121. hi
    i use amaranth flour and arrowroot flour to make chapatis everyday..and add a little flax seed meal to it…is it healthy enough to be eaten everyday?

  122. I’ve clued in to the fact that many of the nuts in the bulk aisle are contaminated with gluten so that’s a factor.

  123. Hi, I came across this article because a recent blood test showed up a bit too much iron in my blood, and I’ve googled it and started learning about hemachromatosis.

    Have I got this right? In order to reduce my absorption of iron, I can go ahead and eat more nuts? Yes?

  124. Have been happily chomping on nuts as a snack to stave off hunger pangs during the (long) working day. As a Brit I can walk into any High Street and get raw nuts in several supermarkets and stores, more options than you can shake a stick at. Finding myself in Chicago for a couple of days I cannot find a nut on the Magnificent Mile (where my billet is) that hasnt been roasted and salted. Where do I get raw nuts from ?

  125. I love nuts, I generally sprout them first though by soaking them in water overnight for almonds. Or at least a few hours for other nuts. They are great, nutrient dense, amazing snacks!

  126. Very interesting information and very helpful. Good to know that a “moderate” amount is about a hand-full and the phytate information – along with the comparison with other phytate-rich foods – is very useful info.

    Thanks for the great blog posts and all the great information provided.

  127. Just a small point – the San (Ju/’hoansi) eat a lot of nuts (Mongongo), the Hadza eat effectively no nuts. The Hadza also have higher bodyweight and appear stronger and healthier to my eyes. The San are the thinnest of the extant HG groups.

  128. Hi Mark,

    How about your favorite nut Macademians? What is the phytic acid content?

    And how would you reduce it?

    Thanks,

    Ron

  129. You know Phytic Acid is not well understood, it has antinutrient effects
    but it is also believed to prevent certain cancers and is essential to processes in the body. So as you argue against beans and nuts by claiming phytic acid is simply bad for you that’s not scientifically true.

  130. Good news we soak and skin the almonds we use in our Paleo Bread-Almond. Also if you want to avoid almond go with Paleo Bread -Coconut!

  131. I soak my almonds overnight to make almond milk and then take the brown residue which consists mostly of the almond skin and dry it in the sun. I then add it to soups and other foods, thinking it is a good source of insoluble fiber. Based on this article it sounds like this is not such a good idea since this would likely be a very concentrated source of phytic acid and may not be a very good choice as a source of insoluble fiber?

  132. I’m sure I speak for all my colleagues at Rockingham in extending an invitation for you to visit us and experience a rather different circuit
    The site”s very professional! Keep up the good work! Oh yes, one extra comment – maybe you could add more pictures too! So, good luck to your team! this the cure (or remedy) is worse than the disease
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  133. All this talk about Grok – many native peoples supplanted meals with meat – at some times of the year, and in some geographical areas, women gatherers provided up 80% of foodstuffs. They also endured periods of famine. It wasn’t all steaks, chops, and drippy fat.

  134. Great article. You made all the points that I wanted to hear. Well, except you seemed to counter them right there at the end with the parenthetical “especially soaked.” As a recovering vegan (ha), I recall trying the almond-soaking years ago. A hassle and they tasted icky. Half the fun is in the crunch. The real crunch, not some artificially-induced crunch (I’m assuming that’s possible, hehe), that takes a comparatively ridiculous amount of time for food prep. But my thoughts before googling to ultimately come upon your article… It’s not the natural almonds that harm the person, but the “gluttony” (as one popular old book calls it), the extreme in eating them. Just as you’re pointing out. My next thought, how do we know the almonds aren’t doing a good thing when we eat them in a proper and reasonable way? Like say, when we’re getting too much of a certain mineral–like calcium 🙂 With the grains and beans, I actually do eat ’em in “handful” (or less) amounts. So many carbs in rice, I just toss a spoon or two in with my pot of veggies. Same with other grains and beans. I don’t eat bread or paste-uh (extremes in food processing, as with anything, just say no), ha, so I’ve kinda overcome the addiction that most of us have to carbs/sugar. Trying to change one’s behavior seems to be the solution, not endeavoring to put our wisdom over Nature’s 🙂 Oh, how we’ve messed up big time (on so many levels) in doing that. I never eat more than 2 to 8 almonds at a time. Recently started holding them in my mouth while preparing my meal, thinking maybe this would sidestep the need for the soaking I’d learned about years ago. Since my meal prep takes about 30 minutes, I’m hoping that’s a nice stretch of time to separate the almonds from the rest of my meal, to any degree that this is really needed. Plus, doing that gets the process going, so I’m already quite satiated (8 almonds…or a spoon of sunbutter, tahini…or a spoon of pumpkin seeds…) by the time the meal is cooked. Both that and having a nice cup of herb tea after the meal keeps me from overeating, while also feeling very satisfied. Hint, the herb tea (green, red, dandelion root…) afterward is key for vanquishing that after-dinner “sweet tooth” 🙂

    Dove

  135. I have read elsewhere that the brown skin of the almond is the part that contains the phytic acid. If that’s true, presumably you can eat more of them by soaking the nut before scrubbing off the skin. Any thoughts?

  136. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the article. Question – what are your thoughts on raw foodists then, whose diets are primarily based on nuts – soaked and/or sprouted + dehydrated of course. My diet is nut heavy, and I’ve only ever had stomach aches when I was eating nuts and seeds wrong – ie un-soaked. Soaking and then blending or processing also helps with the “chewing” , thus making them even more easily digestible. Most raw foodists will consume or ingest nuts in this fashion – as dips, sauces, milks, yogurts etc. Would love to hear your thoughts – thanks.

    Rhea Mehta

  137. I’m a rice eater (a small handful of white rice per paleo meal, possibly 1/2 to 2/3 cup worth). BUT if I switch to brown rice for those meals I get cold sores, flaky and burnt red lips and mouth ulcers. If I add walnuts (pretty much the only nut I will choose to eat), I will DEFINATELY get cold sores and mouth ulcers. Not worth the irritation in my view, but sometimes I do it because I forget how awful it can get.

  138. Mark,

    We use nuts as a meal too (pb & celery, pb and apples, pb out of the jar, almond bread…) I had NO IDEA about phylates. Thank you thank you thank you!

  139. Hi, I’m trying to gain some info on this whole nuts/seeds/legumes thing. I first came across it in my quest to cure my eczema when I read about ‘leaky gut syndrome’ this then branched into two diets: the paleo diet and the candida diet. The paleo diet warns of the horrors of grains for autoimmune disorders such as skin conditions, but it seems the boundaries of what is considered a grain changes from person to person. I like the idea of a paleo diet, but I am a sort of pescetarian (veggie plus fish). I do not eat red meat for a copious amount of reasons (although I don’t disagree with it), and other than the odd scrap of turkey or chicken now and then I don’t eat white meat either. An organic veg/fish/meat diet is SO expensive, I simply can’t afford it. So I do try and limit my grains, but I eat beans and pulses. I do notice that if they’re improperly cooked, or not soaked for long enough (or rinsed often enough) then my stomach will not be as happy, so I’m tempted to agree with you on that front. In trying to stay ‘grain free’ I have started making things like flax bread, only to be told by the paleo community that flax isn’t allowed either, although so many paleo recipes use it! So my question is, to what extent do we have to cut back on grains/nuts/seeds/legumes to get the benefit from it, and what are the main culprits? Will I benefit from eating a bread made of nuts and seeds as opposed to grains?

  140. Interesting read. My mom has hemachromatosis and she wants to avoid the nasty drugs whose side effects are miles long. I was looking for a list of foods that could help with the iron build up in her system.

    Thanks!

  141. I came across your article today while doing weight-loss research. It started while reading a comment from Jim Karas who slated peanut butter as being a forbidden food to eat.
    I’ll be honest, I had the iLap Band surgically done on 3/1/13; while preparing to have this surgery, the doctor told me to load up on proteins because proteins help heal the body faster after the surgical work has been done. I have gained 2 pounds since then with no other news to report! The surgeon and Dietician have been at odds as to why I have been not losing the weight post-op the Lapband and folding of my stomach. During a recent dietician visit, I professed the LOVE and consumption for Silk Jiff PB. I eat it practically EVERY day; not only do I eat multiple pre-packed containers on a daily basis, I have even gone to the “whipped” version that states it has 100 less calories per serving–that just makes me think that I can eat more!! Subconsciously, maybe I turned addict because the PB goes down smooth and it never gets hung in the band area; it is a trusty food of sorts!
    I AM ADDICTED TO SILK JIFF PB! I can’t stop and this worries me. I eat one cup, and then I jump right into the next! The smooth, creamy, sweet/salty combo draws me in every time.
    Now after reading the woes of PB from various standpoints of those who are struggling in losing weight, the answer is quite clear- STOP EATING THE STUFF! I am so sad…really, it’s like losing a best friend and not knowing who will be your new best buddy. But since the proof is in the pudding…I mean peanut butter…I better take the hint and leave the contemptuous habit in my past if I want to be slim and trim!

  142. Thank you for the above list regarding phytic acid, but I see no mention of raw cashews. Are they a better choice?

    Thank you . . .

  143. Thinking of starting a ketosis diet that advocates no nuts, legumes, sugar, caffeine, starchy carbs or fruit but lemons and grapefruit are okay. Only lean protein, certain fish, coconut oil, MCT oil, olive oil, avocado, stevia, monk fruit sugar, ceylon cinnamon, flax seed meal, coconut flour, most veggies if they have low net carbs. Macros are 75% fat, 20% protein and about 5% fat. Any feedback on K diet?

  144. I’m not sure that is a good enough reason for me as far as why not to eat legumes. Why not just say eat them in moderation or “almond” size servings then? I don’t buy the the idea that legumes are not paleo or primal because you may eat too many. This would basically make almond bread non-primal while almonds are primal since grams of almonds per slice of bread is more than a serving of almonds. Right? Or am I missing something here?

  145. Some of the statements in this article are controversial and not scientific fact. It is questionable whether phytic acid is of more benefit or harmful because it might attach to heavy metals and exit them from the body. On the other hand, many think that the phytic acid does not attach to anything but the contents of the item containing it and therefore does not impact other minerals in your body as the article states. Soaking, sprouting or fermenting does reduce phytic acid and there are many good things in grains, seeds and nuts thus avoiding them is very questionable.

  146. Humans may be the most cursed organisms. They live at the top of the food chain and can only eat nothing but meat and vegetables for most of the time.

    They may only eat all the good stuff like nuts, rice, oats, durians, bananas, and yams once in a while and in small amounts.

  147. Great article! We were definitely those people eating nuts or nut product all the time! Almonds for a snack, muffins made with almond flour, treats made with blended nuts…..i knew we were eating too much, but explaining that to my fiancee was a.different story. We have cut.back now tho, thanks for the info on soaking them too!

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  149. I have become an anti-phytate activist after reading a nutritional article that indicated that adding vitamin C to baking flour would wipe out the phytates and soaking grains,beans, or nuts along with whole rye berries or whole buckwheat (I use a ball tea diffuser) and a source of acid would also deactivate the phytic acid via phytase activation. The soaking should be done for 2 hours with whole seed products. I have even slightly acidified my gluten-free pancake mix with vitamin C and my peanut butter too to activate the phytase in them. I wait about 15 minutes after mixing up my pancake batter to allow time for the phytase to reach effective levels. Added Vit. C and my rye berry tea ball to my flax seed milk too. Maybe, I’m getting a little carried away? Oh, de-phytatized shelled peanuts (roasted) develop a texture somewhat like jicama or water chestnuts after soaking with vinegar and water and rye berries and re-dehydration. O.K. for recipes but weird to eat out of hand. Maybe, I’ll just take vitamin C and eat them with a little milk or cottage cheese or yoghurt.

  150. You Paleos are so clever to see trough the behaviours of apes or forefathers but I do not understand (or maybe I do) why you do not see that the Caveman wanted to go out of the cave and it was made thanks to be moderate/eclectic in every thing. I can understand to go against big companies (they love only money and you love be against them) but in that case we all should eat only plankton or algaes, our cleverest forefathers, are not we?

  151. All of this hypersensitive behavior overs foods is why people are so confused today. If you look hard enough you can find something wrong with every type of food out there including vegetables. Many of these concerns are not supported by scientific evidence but are instead promoted to cause fear and promote certain markets and products. See information below from a well established Dr. regarding the concerns with phytic acid in nuts or grains. I have eaten both nuts and unprocessed grains forever without any issues and I am 45yrs old with about 8% body fat. Eat some nuts and eat some unprocessed grains, eat a balanced diet and you will be in great shape and not be a prisoner to your nutrition.
    Dr. Joel Fuhrman also agrees, stating:
    “Although phytic acid content of foods can affect mineral absorption somewhat (less than 20 percent), phytic acid is not toxic and it actually has beneficial properties as a potent antioxidant. Phytic acid is a phytochemical with significant anti-cancer and other health benefits such as reducing inflammation, lowering blood sugar and insulin, and protection against diabetes, Parkinson’s, and even reduces kidney stone formation. Its effects on lowering mineral absorption in those eating healthfully is minimal (because of bacteria in the gut break its mineral bonding). It does lower iron and zinc absorption in the diet, but the effect on other minerals is negligible. Trying to keep levels low is not necessary as the bacteria in the digestive tract (as long as not taking antibiotics) help humans metabolize the excess phytic acid, minimizing the negative. I do not feel soaking and fermenting foods is necessary to remove phytates.

  152. Phytic acid impairs absorption of iron and zinc, and to a lesser extent calcium (2, 3).

    This applies to a single meal, not overall nutrient absorption throughout the day.

    In other words, phytic acid reduces mineral absorption during the meal, but doesn’t have any effect on subsequent meals.

    For example, snacking on nuts between meals could reduce the amount of iron, zinc and calcium you absorb from the nuts, but not from the meal you eat a few hours later.

    However, when you eat high-phytate foods with most of your meals, mineral deficiencies may develop over time.

    In well balanced diets, this is rarely a concern, but may be a significant problem during periods of malnutrition, and in developing countries where the main food source is grains or legumes.

  153. I’m curious about the amount of phytic acid which is necessary for preventing mineral absorption. For example,if I consume 100 mg of phytic acid with a glass of milk, how much calcium (in terms of miligrams) will pass unabsorbed?

  154. Realize that pretty much EVERY food has a possible positive AND negative side– this is why variation and moderation are so key. This article does well to give the reader that idea, if you’re awake and thinking on what you’ve just read.

  155. This is honestly a gut-punch; I feel like I’ve been sabotaging myself for years because I didn’t do my due diligence. My main source of calories has been cashew butter because I found a really affordable, clean brand (nothing but organic dry-roasted cashews). For someone who doesn’t enjoy cooking but likes to still save money on eating out, a jar a day has been the perfect solution. In reading this article and several others, I guess I’m realizing I’m a complete anomaly. Moreover, I have likely been keeping my body in a constantly inflamed state because the cashews are heaving in Omega-6 and phytic acid?

    Thoroughly depressed. 🙁

  156. It used to be that I would grab a handful of nuts and snack on them as an occasional snack. Then a few years ago I got into a trampoline accident that torque my shoulders, neck, and jaw. As my jaw shifted from the accident, my teeth began to crack. Trying to grow my teeth back, I’ve stopped eating grains, but it left a huge gap in my diet and now I have a tendency to fill the gap by eating nuts all day. I try to soak and sour them, to remove the anti-nutrients first, but often times I’m given presents of nuts that have already been roasted. So my question is: Would soaking and fermenting nuts that have already been roasted still remove anti-nutrients?

  157. i feel my teeth rotting during high consumption of nuts, legumes, or grain….

  158. Nothing wrong with phytates if you eat them with foods rich in vitamin C.

  159. I’m that person you speak of who gets alot of their calories from these foods; what low sugar alternatives are there?; realistically speaking. I eat alot of walnuts, seeds, oats, rice and lentils.

  160. Thank you for compiling this information. I greatly appreciate much of what is here. However, I was a little put off by what I felt was a bit of a dismissive attitude (or perhaps simple lack of knowledge) toward having a large amount of nuts in your diet. I personally know of a significant population of humans that do in fact eat this way. So I gently wanted to offer a counterpoint to your statements as a way to continue the conversation.
    I do not consider myself a “primal eater”. I am however, vegan with a strong sensitivity to soy. So yes, I do count on nuts in their many forms for a HUGE portion of my diet. And I am far from alone! From making almond coconut and pecan milks, to fermenting them into cheeses or yogurts, to crusts, breads, nut butters and desserts… There is a VERY large portion of the vegetarian/vegan community that do eat this way. Perhaps you don’t have those humans in your circle. But rest assured we are here! And perhaps you could be more sensitive to that fact in future postings rather than the somewhat dismissive attitude that I found here. Just because YOU may not eat that way, doesn’t mean there aren’t others who are seeking out this knowledge because they do in fact depend on both nuts as well as beans and legumes. It would be lovely to receive the information out there about the acids in ALL of the affected foods and how to get rid of them rather than the very narrow opinion that worrying about whats in nuts is just a silly waste of time!