Overloading on nuts

Nuts, nuts, nuts

Everywhere I look there are new recipes with some sort of a combination of nuts with nut butter, chopped nuts and seeds. All combined and rolled into one. Or even meal ideas with yoghurt alternatives based on nuts, topped with paleo nut granola and then more nuts or seeds. I feel like we have woken up to the fact that fats are healthy and that nuts are good for us but when does it cross the line into nut overload? A complete meal of just different types of nuts sounds about as balanced as eating only chicken for a meal. It sounds about as extreme as when people assumed Paleo eating meant you just ate only meat for 3 meals a day.

That’s not to say that some people won’t do well on meals based on nuts - we are all bio-individual with different nutritional needs. But I’m definitely not the only one who doesn't feel great after eating more than a handful. Usually bloating and gas follow after I eat too many nuts. Nuts are also extremely easy to overeat so I tend to avoid them mostly, you go from a handful to snack on to having eaten 600 calories in about 1.5 seconds flat. I love a spoonful of almond butter on my toast but basing whole desserts or meals on nuts doesn't agree with me.

Nuts and digestion

Nut’s contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid that can bind to minerals in the GI tract and prevent absorption. Soaking or sprouting nuts reduces this but this makes the nuts very expensive or if done at home is very time-consuming. I have tried soaking and dehydrating to activate nuts and it’s not a quick process. Nuts and seeds also contain mainly Omega 6 oils which we can easily overload on. Ideally, our diet should have a ratio of 1:1 Omega 6 vs Omega 3, and this can already be tough to achieve even if we are avoiding processed vegetable oils like canola, soy, corn etc.

 Raw vegan cheesecake made from a whole lot of nuts.

Raw vegan cheesecake made from a whole lot of nuts.

Nut’s can overall be very irritating and allergenic so shouldn't be eating in huge quantities. In nature nuts were never the base of meals. Think about how time consuming it is to shell each individual nut or seed and imagine doing that now just to eat a dessert using two cups of almond butter and topped with more chopped nuts. I remember being young and eating sunflower seeds from the dried head of a huge sunflower, I can’t imagine how long it would take to pick and shell enough sunflower seeds to make a batch of cookies or a raw vegan cheesecake.

Finding balance

I think most people do best with balanced meals based on half the plate being non-starchy vegetables, a quarter plate of protein and quarter something starchy with extra fat added to the plate, be it nuts, seeds, avocado, butter, etc. A meal based on all three macronutrients works best to keep us fueled and satiated between meals. I think the meal based on nuts is just a modern phenomenon with so many new health products on the market it’s easy to go overboard on one thing without realising it. If we had to make everything from scratch including the nut yoghurt, nut milk, nut based granola, nut butter it would be easier to visualise exactly how much nuts are involved in a meal like that and see that it’s not the most balanced option to have very regularly.