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II. The Solution if You Eat Lots of Nuts
1. Problem: Nuts Contain Anti-Nutrients
Solution: Nuts in Small Amounts Are Perfectly Safe For You. Yes, nuts do contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and lectins.
However, anti-nutrients are present in MANY foods. Not just nuts. They are also in grains, seeds, and even some vegetables such as the nightshade family (eggplants, peppers, white potatoes, tomatoes).
What’s important is to minimize your consumption and exposure to anti-nutrients. Small amounts of ani-nutrients are okay. In fact, some studies show that phytic acid, in small amounts, has anti-cancer properties. (1) (2)
The key is…small amounts. When foods high in anti-nutrients ( nuts, grains, seeds, nightshades) are a dietary staple and consumed in large amounts on a daily basis, your GI tract gets destroyed. (3)
2. Problem: Nuts Can Cause Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies and Tooth Decay
Solution: Eat small amounts of properly prepared nuts by themselves.
How much is a small amount? About a handful of nuts (not exceeding a 1/2 cup per day) is perfectly safe. (4) And by properly prepared nuts I mean nuts that have been soaked and dehydrated first. Soaking your nuts helps to considerably lower your exposure to anti-nutrients.
Lastly, eat your nuts by themselves. This prevents any anti-nutrients that might still be present in the skin of the nut from robbing you from nutrients in your lunch or dinner. Many studies show that the phytate molecule in phytic acid actually binds to vitamins and minerals in the food you are eating, inhibiting you from absorbing all the nutrients. (5) Research shows that you are able to absorb 20 percent more zinc and 40 percent more magnesium from your food when phytate is absent in your meal. (6) (7) (8) By eating your handful of nuts separate from your main meals, this takes care of that problem naturally.
3. Problem: Nuts Can Cause Inflammation, Leaky Gut, Autoimmune Conditions, IBS and Other Digestive Problems, Neurological Diseases and Much More
Solution: With proper preparation, a small serving of nuts won’t damage your gut.
As I mentioned earlier, a handful of nuts not exceeding a half cup is the perfect amount. And if you soak your nuts and dehydrate them first, it helps to remove most of the gut irritating phytic acid. Your gut is more prone to develop intestinal permeability only if you eat large amounts of nuts/nut-based products such as nut butter, baked goods and treats made with almond flour as a mainstay in your diet.
4. Problem: Nuts are High in Omega 6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Solution: Do not exceed more than a handful (1/2 a cup) of nuts per day, only eat treats made with nut flours occasionally, and increase your daily intake of Omega 3 PUFA.
Research shows that our ancestors (who were free of most of the inflammatory diseases that are prevelent today) ate a diet where the ratio to Omega 6 to Omega 3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) were 1:1. Today, however, the American diet has blown the above ratio out of the park. On average today the average ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 ranges anywhere from 10:1 to 20:1 (with some individuals having a ratio of 26:1). (9)
This is very dangerous as high levels of Omega 6 PUFAs in relation to low Omega 3 PUFAs have been shown to contribute to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, non-insulin dependent diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and free radical formation. (10) (11)
If you keep your daily intake of nuts to only a small handful, this will help regulate your intake of Omega 6 PUFA. For this very reason, you should monitor your consumption of nut flour breads/treats. Eat them occasionally for special occasions or as a treat but not daily. Just one slice of grain free bread made with almond flour contains more nuts than you would think!
Lastly, it would be wise for your overall health to increase your daily intake of Omega 3 rich foods. If you can’t afford to eat wild-caught fish, I would suggest supplementing with a Krill oil Supplement daily. Another great option is Cod Liver Oil.
5. Nuts are Highly Caloric Foods
Solution: Avoid regularly keeping nut butters in the house and don’t bake with nut flours.
This is my personal rule as I have such a weakness for almond butter. Most nut butters are very easy to overeat. A little spoonful here and there throughout the day as little snacks. The problem it, you have no idea how many nuts you are actually consuming because they’re ground down into a butter. When I used to make almond butter, 1 pound resulted in a 12 ounce jar. So when I ate 3/4 of a jar of nut butter in a day, that means I almost ate a whole pound of almonds! It definitely didn’t seem like I ate that much when I scooping small spoonfuls out of the almond butter jar.
The same goes for almond flour. I choose not to bake with almond flour as it’s too high in Omega 6 PUFA AND has a high caloric content. Instead I bake with a combination of Arrowroot and Coconut flours. They aren’t high in Omega 6 PUFA and aren’t as high in calories.
6. Nut Flours and Nut Butters are Prone to Oxidation and Molds
Solution: Don’t bake with nut flours, make your own nut butters ( instead of buying from the store ), disinfect your nuts, store nuts in the fridge/freezer and avoid nuts prone to aflatoxins (such as Peanuts and Pistachios).
After being harvested, most nuts go through many months of processing, pasteurization, exposure to heat, light, and oxygen, and extended periods of storage. This is a recipe for disaster when as the Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the nuts are very delicate. When exposed to any of the above manufacturing and storage conditions for too long, they are prone to oxidation. Oxidation is when the Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids go rancid. (12)
Rancid oils are dangerous for your health in that they produce free radicals in your body. (13) Free radicals can damage the cells in your body, weakening them to be more prone to disease.
To lower your exposure to rancid Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids from nuts, don’t buy and bake with nut flours. Nut flours are especially prone to rancid oils as nuts, such as almonds, are usually blanched first before grinding. This removes the protective layer of skin from the nut which, although does remove most of the phytic acid, destroys the delicate oils in the nuts. The exposure to all different temperatures and elements through the packaging and storing process further oxidizes the nut flour.
For these same reasons I would advise that, if you simply can’t live without your almond butter, you make your own. Immediately after grinding your presoaked and dehydrated almonds or cashews into a butter, place it in a jar and refrigerate it immediately. This will keep the oils from going rancid.
Do the same for nuts you plan to snack on. Presoak and dehydrate your nuts first. Then place in a freezer bag or container and store in the fridge or freezer to keep the nuts from oxidizing.
Nuts are also prone to molds (Mycotoxins) when stored in bins or in packages on grocery store shelves for months before being consumed. (14) (15) Peanuts are the most common nuts to be contaminated with a specific mold called Aflatoxins (16) (17) (18)
To remedy this, remove any possible molds that might be present on your nuts by dropping a few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide into the bowl of water when you are soaking your nuts. After soaking, be sure to rinse nuts thoroughly before dehydrating.
And avoid peanuts!
More on that in Part 3, coming Next Friday!
7. Barbro, Nävert, Sandström Brittmarie, and Å. K. E. Cederblad. “Reduction of the phytate content of bran by leavening in bread and its effect on zinc absorption in man.” British Journal of Nutrition 53.1 (1985): 47-53.
11. Yam, Daniel, Abraham Eliraz, and Elliot M. Berry. “Diet and disease–the Israeli paradox: possible dangers of a high omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid diet.” Israel journal of medical sciences 32.11 (1996): 1134-1143.
17. Dickens, J. W., and R. E. Welty. “Detecting farmers’ stock peanuts containing aflatoxin by examination for visible growth of Aspergillus flavus.” Mycopathologia et mycologia applicata37.1 (1969): 65-69.