Nut Nutritionals Simplified
Clarifying the Claims
By Kim Peacock
Does it make you crazy to hear this nut cures this and that nut lowers that? It can be so confusing.
For years the industry has been saying that nutrition in nuts is all pretty much the same. Compared to what, a slab of steak? And, I’ve been studying those charts with the tiny numbers. It’s boring, and it causes headaches!
So, I decided to simplify this topic for all of us. I borrowed the chart below from Pinterest because it’s colorful and easy to read. If you see conflicting numbers elsewhere, remember these are based on 1 oz servings, and the values are in grams.
Let’s start on the left with Protein. Note that the red lines marking the highest numbers are to the left of the Nutritional Item. Here’s our ranking for Protein:
1. Peanuts – Yes, I know these are really “legumes” (beans) and not “tree nuts”. High iron worth noting.
4, Coming in last is Macadamia Nuts and one of my favorites, Pecans ☹.
Carbohydrates. Our top Carb Nuts are:
Our lowest Carbohydrate Nuts are:
1. Brazil Nuts
2. Macadamia Nuts
Fiber. If I read this chart correctly, it looks like the chart is incorrect. It’s pointing toward Pistachios at 2.9 as highest, but Almonds are reading 3.5, so I’m going by the chart. The way Pistachios are processed when brought in from the field, it wouldn’t surprise me that they would be highest in fiber. They are immediately dry roasted and so much of the liquid in them removed, it would make sense. Nonetheless. Here’s what’s highest in Fiber:
Lowest in Fiber:
1. Cashews ☹ (Love these too!)
2. Pine Nuts (We don’t carry these)
Saturated Fat. Boo to Saturated Fat, I know. But most of these numbers are pretty low. But here are the nuts high in Sat Fat:
1. Brazil Nuts (They’re so oily, they’re sold raw and not roasted.)
2. Macadamia Nuts
3. Cashews (a big difference between #2 & #3)
Lowest in Sat Fat:
3. Pine Nuts
Mono Fat. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. Those are those heathy fats like olive oil. You know them, because they stay liquid at room temperature, unlike butter and coconut oil. And, yes, coconut oil has lately become a healthy fad, and frankly, I don’t get it. It’s not good for you. But going on… Mono Fats help lower bad cholesterol levels, help develop and maintain cells and reduce inflammation. These nuts are high in Mono Fat:
1. Macadamias (This one surprises me!)
These are lowest in Mono Fat:
2. Pine Nuts
W-3 Fat. Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These are essential to human health. These fats are not made by the body, and we must get them from food: cold water fish, dark leafy green vegetables, fish oil, soybeans, and walnuts. They protect against atherosclerosis (and therefore heart disease and stroke), abnormal heart rhythms and maybe auto immune disorders. With walnuts, no worries about mercury levels in fish. These nuts are highest in W-3 Fat:
3. Pine Nuts
These are lowest in W-3 Fat:
2. Brazil Nuts
3. Macadamia Nuts
W-6 Fat. Omega-6 Fatty Acids. According to reports, Americans get 20 times more of these than the W-3 Fats, and the nutritionists wish we would balance the two out better. Foods in this category are corn, butter, beef, eggs, safflower oil, and, specifically mentioned, walnuts. They help us with brain function, stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health and the reproductive system. And, they “may” reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. But, this topic is confusing as others believe too much of this promotes inflammation and blood vessel constriction. The top W-6 Fat Nuts are:
2. Pine Nuts
4. Brazil Nuts
Lowest in these are:
Calories. Uh Oh. Here’s my favorite category. Here are the nuts highest in Calories:
2. Pecans ☹ One of my favorites!
3. Brazil Nuts
And lowest in Calories:
1. Cashews (This surprises me!)
You’ll notice that we didn’t touch on minerals. We’re keeping it simple. But, I can tell you that all nuts have certain levels of them. Pistachios are highest in potassium. Brazil Nuts are highest in magnesium, and Cashews highest in zinc. But Almonds rank highest in riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E and calcium
It seems that nuts trade off in their attributes. Some are better for some things and others for other things. But, I admit, I love them all. I can’t see the point of a salad, baked good or cereal without nuts in them. And, I love snacking on them. I guess I’m in the right business. After more than 30 years I still love them. Now, I understand them a little better, and I hope you do too!
Below is a little pop quiz, the kind your sixth grade teacher was always throwing at you. Unlike those pop quizzes, however, this one is short, easy and not compulsory. Let’s see how you do!
Nut Pop Quiz
1.What nut is loaded with Protein?
2. Which nut has the highest Fiber?
3. Which nut has the highest Saturated Fat
A. Brazil Nut
B. Macadamia Nuts
C. Pine Nuts.
4. Which Nuts are highest in Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
A. Macadamia Nuts
5. Which Nuts are lowest in Calories?
A. Peanuts and Pistachios are actually a tie
Here are the answers:
How did you do?
As always, thanks for your support!