“Can I still eat nuts?” This is the first question most of my clients ask when I modify their food plans. Most people tend to remove nuts from their diet when trying to lose weight because they think nuts are high in fat. This holds some truth, but nuts can also be a healthy option and certain varieties do contain many health benefits. Nuts are a valuable supply of concentrated proteins and fats. Not all nuts are created equally, however; while some are excellent sources of nutrients, others are not.
Peanuts, for example, are NOT a nut but a legume. The trouble with peanuts is that they can be hard to digest, easily contaminated, and since they are high in Omega 6 they can distort your Omega 3. I always discourage my clients from buying peanut butter (especially the commercial brands that are loaded with sugar) for their kids. Almond butter is a far better option, full of nutrients and way easier to digest. Just hide the jar of peanut butter – I bet they will not even notice the difference!
Almonds (when fresh, organic, and raw) are the most ALKALINE of all nuts. They are a good source of Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and copper. Many people have resorted to buying almond milk due to lactose intolerance. Although a better choice that cow’s milk, commercial brands of almond milk are not as healthy as homemade versions.
Making almond milk is really very easy. Use blanched or un-blanched almonds. Soak them overnight in pineapple juice, apple juice, or honey water. Use enough liquid to cover the nuts. The next day, blend the nuts and liquid for two to three minutes. Almond milk is a very alkaline drink, high in protein, and easily assimilated in the body.
The nuts that are the highest in healthy fats are Pecans and Macadamias. Raw Macadamia nuts contain high amounts of Vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese and are a healthy source of monounsaturated fat. Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals. Brazil nuts are a good source of organic selenium. Walnuts are great sources of plant-based Omega 3 fats.
Another important point to note is that you should never eat nuts at the end of a meal, particularly a heavy meal. Because they are a highly concentrated NATURAL food largely composed of fat and protein, they require a FREE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM so they can be properly broken down and your body can obtain their benefits. Eating nuts in small quantities between meals (I never recommend more than 8 at a time) is the way to go. Nuts that have been cooked, roasted, or subjected to high heat are harmful because of the change that takes place in the fat under these conditions.
Nut butters are more easily digested than nuts themselves, provided they have not been subjected to heat. To make nut butter, take 1¾ cups of any mixed nuts mentioned above. Put all these nuts in a food processor and blend until the mixture forms a moist ball. Stop the machine every couple of minutes to avoid overheating, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. You may use some oil to help mix things up, but the butter will last longer if you do not.
In conclusion, the more plant-based your diet is, the more you can get away with including nuts as a snack food without having to worry about the fat and acidity. If you are still heavy on the meat, go lighter on the nuts!