While nuts and seeds can be tasty and convenient paleo snack ideas, what are the trade-offs?
Of course, folks with allergies or digestive problems related to consuming nuts are a non-starter. But even without these health issues, there are still a few things to consider such as phytic acid and fat content.
To prevent the nut or seed from sprouting, phytic acid is added. The problem is that this substance can also prevent our digestive system from absorbing healthy minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium.
How Fats in Nuts Can Be Bad
At the same time high amounts of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), especially omega-6, can lead to obesity, and related illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. For an average diet of 2,200 calories, it’s recommended to eat no more than 5 to 8 grams of omega-6 per day.
In addition, PUFAs easily oxidize, causing toxic reactions with sugars and proteins in our bodies. So, it’s much better to eat nuts and seeds unroasted.
Before we go into the top nuts and seeds for paleo snack ideas, let’s talk about peanuts. These are actually legumes, and one of the most common causes of food allergies. Peanuts are also full of anti-nutrients and lectins, as well as aflatoxin, a known carcinogen. So, unfortunately, we have to give this popular food a thumbs down.
While almonds are moderately high in PUFA, (mostly omega-6, 12.1 grams per 100 grams, or about half a cup,) they’re still a good source of vitamin E, riboflavin, manganese, copper, and magnesium.
Moderately low in PUFA cashews have about 7.8 grams per 100 grams, also mostly in omega-6 fat. But they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium.
Walnuts are often praised for high omega-3 content, but unfortunately their high total PUFA (47.2 grams per 100 grams) also has a poor omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Still, eaten sparingly, they can be a good source of magnesium. manganese and copper.
Moderately high in PUFA (13.2 grams per 100 grams, mostly in omega-6 fat,) pistachio can be a decent source of copper, thiamine, manganese and vitamin B6.
Pecans are moderately high in PUFA, (21.6 grams per 100 grams, mostly in omega-6 fat) But are also a good source of more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, copper, thiamine, several B vitamins and zinc.
Macadamia nuts are actually LOW in total PUFA compared to the other nuts, (1.5 grams per 100 grams,) and most of their fat being monounsaturated. Plus, they are very low in antinutrients like phytic acid, while being full of antioxidants and Vitamin A, copper, iron, protein, thiamin, manganese, riboflavin, niacin, and folates.
Key Things to Remember
Nuts contain lectins that can irritate our stomach lining.
Nuts also contain phytic acid, which can block our digestion from absorbing minerals.
Nuts tend to be very high in total polyunsaturated fat (PUFA,) with mostly in omega-6, which you should consume in moderation.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Nuts and Seeds – Paleo Snack Ideas