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FAQs


Find answers to some of the most common questions we are asked about nuts by browsing through the questions and answers in this section.

Should pregnant and lactating women eat nuts?

It’s often recommended that introducing nuts to children be delayed until 12 months of age to reduce the risk of allergies, but there’s little evidence to suggest this helps.36 Delaying the introduction of foods may have the opposite effect.36 though this isn’t proven and more research is needed. Hold off on whole nuts until after five years to reduce the risk of choking – smooth nut pastes are a great and nutritious alternative until they are old enough to chew whole nuts well.

My child can’t take nuts to school how can I include them in their diet?

If your child attends a nut free day care or primary school it’s generally because there is a student at the school who is allergic to nuts. For information on nuts see the section on Nuts and Allergy or our fact sheet

For those kids who aren’t allergic to nuts use nuts in breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner and weekend meals and snacks. Check out our recipe section for some great ideas

When should nuts be introduced to children’s diet?

It’s often recommended that introducing nuts to children be delayed until 12 months of age to reduce the risk of allergies, but there’s little evidence to suggest this helps.36 Delaying the introduction of foods may have the opposite effect.36 though this isn’t proven and more research is needed. Hold off on whole nuts until after five years to reduce the risk of choking – smooth nut pastes are a great and nutritious alternative until they are old enough to chew whole nuts well.

What other ingredients contain nuts that I may not be aware of?

Nuts can be hidden in foods and cosmetics such as nut oils, nut essences or as nut flours. It is essential to check the ingredients of all foods every time you purchase them in case ingredient changes have been made since the last time you purchased it.

Examples of foods in which nuts can be hidden:

  • African, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Mexican, and Vietnamese dishes (which often contain nuts or come into contact with nuts during meal preparation)
  • Crushed nuts in sauces
  • Certain chocolates, particularly caramels coated with chocolate
  • Cakes may contain a nut essence or nut flours
  • Pesto (an Italian sauce made with nuts)
  • Nut butters and spreads
  • All cakes and pastries with unknown ingredients, particularly carrot cake, pumpkin cake or pie, and fruit and nut rolls
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavouring)
  • Bouillon and Worcestershire sauce
  • Praline and nougat
  • Muesli and fruited breakfast cereals
  • Vegetarian dishes
  • Health food bars
  • Artificial nuts (which could be nuts that have been deflavoured and reflavoured with another nut, such as pecan or walnut)
  • Marzipan (a paste made from ground almonds and sugar)
  • Gravy
  • Coated popcorn which may contain nut oil
  • Some ice cream toppings contain chopped nuts
  • Prepared salads and salad dressings
  • Foods bought in a bakery or delicatessen (where there is more risk of contamination; no ingredients label and foods are unwrapped)

Other products that may pose a risk include:

  • Certain cosmetic items such as lipsticks and lip balms, bath oils or similar products
  • Some skin creams, including those for eczema, may contain nut oils - as these can be absorbed through the skin, they can cause a reaction in a highly sensitive patient
  • People with allergies should not handle nuts, for example, in bird feeders or when used in artworks.

Where can I buy guaranteed nut-free products?

Several products are manufactured without nuts as ingredients and in facilities where nuts are not also handled. Whilst it is recommended that you be extra vigilant when reading product labels, extra re-assurance can be gained by contacting the manufacturer directly.

In addition, some manufacturers produce food specifically for the nut-free market. It is also worthwhile contacting these manufacturers and asking them about their production process to ensure no possible traces of nuts can enter the supply chain.
Dietitians associated with an interest in allergies may be able to recommend specialist nut-free products, and it is advisable to join an allergy support network such as Anaphylaxis Australia Inc. to seek recommendations from other members.

Why do many food product labels now say “May contain traces of nuts”?

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code 1.2.3 “Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations” was gazetted in December 2002. This Standard stipulates that where any of the 9 key food allergens, including peanuts and tree nuts are added to a food, it must appear on the label. Labels must appear when the allergic substances are knowingly added to food as ingredients, components of ingredients or processing aids and food additives.

In addition to this labelling, many food manufacturers choose to highlight the risk of accidental cross-contact between products that do contain allergens and products that do not contain allergens, sometimes using statements such as “Made on the same line as products that contain nuts” or “May contain traces of nuts”.

If I suspect that I or my child has a nut allergy who should I seek advice from?

Your family doctor should be able to refer you to an allergy specialist or allergy clinic but avoid going to alternative practitioners for allergy advice.

What should I do if my child has a reaction to eating nuts?

Most reactions to nuts are either mild or moderately severe, involving reactions such as abdominal pain, itchy throat, sneezing, or hives. However, if your child is having trouble breathing or passes out, call 000 immediately. Have your child lie down with their feet elevated to reduce the risk of shock until the paramedics arrive.

If your child has been diagnosed with a nut allergy and you have an anaphylactic kit, give your child an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) immediately. When you receive your anaphylactic kit it is very important that all family members and close friends receive training and familiarise themselves with the safe response procedure prior to when you need to use it.

Even if your child recovers quickly and seems to be normal, call your GP immediately. A secondary reaction may occur hours after the initial reaction.

If I have a nut allergy is there another way to get all the nutrition that nuts contain so I’m not missing out?

A balanced diet will give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health and wellbeing. By excluding nuts and products that contain nuts you may need to pay extra attention to the foods that make up your daily diet. If you believe you may be missing essential nutrients as a result of dietary restrictions you can consult your doctor or local Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD). See www.daa.asn.au to find your local APD.

If I have a nut allergy can I still eat out at restaurants? Have takeaways?

Provided you take a few precautions, you can still enjoy restaurant meals or takeaways even if you have nut allergies. Do not rely on menu descriptions alone when ordering; Ask questions about ingredients and how the meal is prepared to lower your risk of an allergic reaction. Also avoid restaurants that are likely to use nuts in several dishes, for example, Asian meals and satay restaurants. You might be uncomfortable making special requests at restaurants, especially if the service staff are overextended. Discomfort in speaking up about food allergies is the most common reason people have allergic reactions when dining out. Other reasons include:

  • Meals are cooked with shared pans and utensils
  • The restaurant makes a mistake
  • The wait staff or chef is not educated about food allergies or hidden ingredients in food, such as those found in dressings and sauces

Plan and call ahead and learn to feel comfortable speaking up about your food allergy to reduce your chances of having a problem. Allergy support groups can often provide additional advice and resources such as communication cards (‘Chef cards’) that will help you explain your requirements clearly to food service staff. Specialised eateries that cater for allergic consumers are also becoming more common.

If I have a nut allergy can I eat a small amount of nuts and be OK?

Even very small amounts of a nut can lead to allergic reactions in susceptible people. As subsequent reactions can sometimes be much more severe than previous reactions, total avoidance of nuts is advised.

If you are allergic to one nut do you have to avoid all nuts?

If you have a known allergy to one type of nut, it is recommended that you avoid all nuts until you have been cleared of other nut allergies through carefully controlled and administered medical food challenge tests.

Even once this has been determined, it is often recommended that all nuts be avoided due to food handling practices that may see one nut substituted or mixed with another without notice. If cross contact can be completely avoided, such as where nuts are in their shell, they may be deemed safe to consume provided there is no allergy to that specific nut.

How do I choose fresh nuts?

For nuts in the shell: choose clean nuts free from cracks and holes. Nuts in the shell should be heavy for their size, indicating a fresh, solid kernel.

For nut kernels: choose crisp, plump and solid kernels indicating high quality. Unless you plan to use kernels as a garnish, they do not need to be uniform in size.

Once home, remove nuts from plastic bags and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated up to 4 months and frozen up to 6 months. Remember to bring nuts back to room temperature before eating so they taste...well....nuttier!

Should I soak nuts?

In some cultures nuts are traditionally soaked before using in various ways. Soaking is thought to breakdown some of the fibrous components of the nut making them more digestible. However, it’s not necessary – nuts can be enjoyed raw or roasted, or soaked if you prefer.

Are organic nuts better than conventionally grown nuts?

A handful of any type of nuts has benefits for health. Both organic and conventionally grown nuts are available in supermarkets, greengrocers and other food stores, so include a handful of whichever type are your preference.

Where are nuts grown?

Tree nuts are grown all over the world, and most types are grown here in Australia. The only nuts that aren’t grown here at all are Brazil nuts (which can only grow in the rainforests of South America) and pine nuts.


Almond

Almonds are grown in several regions in Australia and are only second to the US in terms of volume produced. You will find almond orchards along the Murray River Valley, across four main regions: Adelaide (SA), Riverland (SA), Sunraysia (VIC) and Riverina (NSW). Plus new plantations in the Swan Region (WA). Some are also imported from California USA.


Brazil nut

Brazil nuts are not grown in Australia as they need the rainforests of the Amazon valley of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia to grow.


Cashew

A native of Brazil, now grown in Vietnam, India, Africa and Brazil, with some small orchards in northern Australia.


Chestnut

A small but growing industry chestnuts are grown all throughout Australia: Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania but the main production is in north east Victoria. You will find chestnuts grown east of Melbourne, in central Victoria and around Orange, Southern Tablelands, Blue Mountains and Batlow in New South Wales. Also Adelaide Hills in South Australia and south west Western Australia.


Hazelnut

A native of Europe and Asia Minor. Most hazelnuts in Australia come from Turkey and USA. Another growing industry in Australia with orchards in the Central Tablelands of NSW near Orange, and north east Victoria near Myrtleford. Some also grown in central and Eastern Victoria and Tasmania.


Macadamia

Macadamias are Australia’s native nut and are grown along the coastal strip of eastern Australia, from the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland to Nambucca Heads in NSW. The majority is grown in the New South Wales Northern Rivers district.


Pecan

Well known as a native American nut, pecans are grown from the Hunter Valley and Nelsons Bay on the Central Coast to the Mid North Coast near Kempsey and the North Coast near Lismore. Plus orchards can be found in Queensland at Munduberra, Gympie, Bundaberg, the Atherton tablelands and Beaudesert and small plantings in South Australia and Western Australia.


Pine nut

Australia does not grown pine nuts they are imported from Asia and the Mediterranean.


Pistachio

A native of Asia Minor now grown in Iran and California USA. A small Australian industry is producing pistachios along the Murray River Valley between Swan Hill in Victoria and Waikerie in South Australia. Plus further plantings in central west Victoria and Pinnaroo, South Australia. Small plantings can be found in Western Australia.


Walnut

A native of the northern hemisphere. Major supplies to Australia come from California USA and China with increasing quantities from the growing Australian industry on the east coast of Tasmania and SE mainland in the Goulburn Valley near Shepparton, the Murray Irrigation Area near Kerang and Swan Hill and the Riverina near Griffith in New South Wales. Smaller production from Ovens Valley, Gippsland and Central Regions of Victoria, in the NSW Southern Highlands, in the Adelaide Hills and Riverland regions of South Australia and in south west Western Australia.

Do peanuts count as nuts?

Peanuts are actually a legume rather than a true tree nut. However, they share many of the properties and health benefits of tree nuts. The large population (epidemiology) studies which show benefits in eating nuts for reducing risks of heart health and diabetes 1-5,39 didn’t distinguish between tree nuts and peanuts so all nuts have a positive health benefit. Nuts for Life is funded by the Australian Tree Nut Industry though.

How many nuts/ how much nuts should I eat?

Research indicates that 30g or a handful of nuts at least five times a week, as part of a heart healthy diet, can reduce your risk of heart disease by ~30-50%.1-5 New research in 2010 found that to lower blood cholesterol need about 60g or two handfuls a day.6

30g of nuts equals:

  • 20 almonds
  • 10 Brazil nuts
  • 15 cashews
  • 4 chestnuts
  • 20 hazelnuts
  • 15 macadamias
  • 15 pecans
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 30 pistachio kernels out of shell
  • 10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
  • a small handful of mixed nuts

    Is one nut better than all the rest?

    Just as we need a variety of fruits and vegetables, we need to eat a variety of nuts as well. So keep your diet varied and remember 2 serves of fruit, 5 of veg and a handful of nuts every day. Use nuts as a snack or as ingredients in meals to add interesting textures and tastes.

    What are activated almonds, and are they better for you?

    Activated almonds have been soaked in water for around 12-24 hours to begin the germination process; and then oftentimes slowly dried again, so they’re still crisp. Nuts are plant seeds, and soaking them for long enough can start the germination process, which causes changes in the seed.

    A germinating seed (now activated after being dormant) begins to break down some of the stored proteins, starches (carbohydrates) and oils [1,2,3,4] into forms of energy for the young sprout to grow roots and shoots. As well as some changes to these nutrients, other plant chemicals also begin to change [5,6]

    Phytate or phytic acid is a phytochemical that binds with minerals such as iron and zinc, making it difficult for our body to absorb these . There are numerous studies in grains and legumes that show soaking and/or germination decreases the amount of phytate in the seed [8,9,10,11,12,13,14], and some go on to show the amount of easily absorbed minerals increases [15,16,17]. However, some studies show an increase in the amount of phytase (an enzyme that breaks down phytate), but don’t find a matching reduction in phytate [18] or an increase in minerals [19]

    Unfortunately, there appears to be no published studies of exactly what happens in almonds or other tree nuts, as opposed to what happens in soaked and germinated grains and legumes.

    Studies also show that the type of seed and the length of time it’s allowed to germinate [10,21] has a big impact on how much phytate is reduced. There are no studies that look at how long you need to soak almonds or other nuts to get any phytate reduction.

    So there is very little scientific evidence to judge what changes occur in a soaked almonds (or other nuts); how long you need to soak them for these changes to occur; and most importantly, whether any changes that do occur make a nutritional difference to the person eating them. Phytate is also a known antioxidant, and may be important in protecting against cancer and other inflammatory diseases [22], so reducing the amount you consume may not always be desirable.

    We know almonds and other nuts – activated or not --have important health effects: a handful a day can help to protect against high-cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes, as well as help to manage weight and appetite. Any advantage that ‘activated almonds’ might theoretically have would relate to how easy it is for your body to access some of the minerals present – something that’s not likely to be very relevant to a person eating a mixed diet in Australia. In countries where a limited number of foods may be eaten, for example where the diet is based largely on staples corn, millet or other grains, the amounts of phytate can be high, and other food sources of nutrients like iron and zinc can be low. In these countries, the effects of traditional food preparation, such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting of grains to reduce phytate content can be nutritionally important.

    While we don’t know if the fibre content of activated/soaked almonds changes we do know the fibre in raw natural almonds may prevent some of the fat in almonds from being absorbed so it is excreted from the body. Nut eaters have more fat in their stools and this may be one of the ways nuts can help with weight management [23,24,25].  

    So whether activated or not almonds and other nuts are nutritious snack choices to make. For more information on almonds refer to our almond fact sheet.

    References

    [1]  Bahari, S (2012). Lipolytic activity and chilling requirement for germination of some almond cultivars African Journal of Biotechnology, 11(76): 14096-14101.
    [2]  Malhotra, RC (1931). Physio-chemical study of some economic seeds during germination with particular reference to weight and energy loss. Protoplasma 12(1):167-189.
    [3]  Hahm T-S, Park S-J, Lo YM (2009). Effects of germination on chemical composition and functional properties of sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) seeds. Bioresource Technology 100(4):1643-1647.
    [4]  Mubarak AE (2005). Nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of (Phaseolus aureus) as affected by some home traditional processes. Food Chemistry, 89(4):489-495.
    [5]  Khandelwai S, Udipi SA, Ghugre P (2010). Polyphenols and tannins in Indian pulses: Effect of soaking, germination and pressure cooking Food Research International, 43(2): 526-530.
    [6]  Mubarak AE (2005). Nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of (Phaseolus aureus) as affected by some home traditional processes. Food Chemistry, 89(4):489-495.
    [7]  Kumar V, Sinha AK, Makar HPS, Becker K (2010). Dietary roles of phytate and phytase in human nutrition: a review. Food Chemistry, 120(4): 945-959.
    [8]  Azeke AA, Egielewa SJ, Eigebogbo MU, Godwin I (2011). Effect of germination on the phytase activity, phytate and total phosphorus contents of rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), millet (Panicum miliaceum) sorghum (Sorghum bicolour) and wheat (Triticum aestivum). J Food Sci Tech, 48 (6): 724-729.
    [9]  Khattak AB, ZEb A, Bibi N, Khattak SA (2007). Influenece of germination techniques on phytic acid and polyphenol content of chickpea (cicer arietinium L.) sprouts. Food Chemistry, 104(3): 1074-1079.
    [10]  Kumar V, Sinha AK, Makar HPS, Becker K (2010). Dietary roles of phytate and phytase in human nutrition: a review. Food Chemistry, 120(4): 945-959.
    [11]  Liang J, Han B-Z, Nout MJR, Hamer RJ (2009). Effect of soaking and phytase treatment on phytic acid, calcium, iron, and zinc in rice fractions. Food Chemistry, 115(3): 789-794.
    [12]  Liang J, Han B-Z, Nout MJR, Hamer RJ (2008). Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice. Food Chemistry 110(4): 821-828.
    [13]  Mubarak AE (2005). Nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of (Phaseolus aureus) as affected by some home traditional processes. Food Chemistry, 89(4):489-495
    [14]  Sokrab AM, Ahmed IAM, Babiker EE (2012). Effect of germination on antinutritional factors, total, and extrataqble mineral of high an low phytate corn (Zea mays L.) genotypes. J Saudi Soc Ag Sci 11:123-128.
    [15]  Azeke AA, Egielewa SJ, Eigebogbo MU, Godwin I (2011). Effect of germination on the phytase activity, phytate and total phosphorus contents of rice (Oryza sativa), maize (Zea mays), millet (Panicum miliaceum) sorghum (Sorghum bicolour) and wheat (Triticum aestivum). J Food Sci Tech, 48 (6): 724-729.
    [16]  Mubarak AE (2005). Nutritional composition and antinutritional factors of mung bean (Phaseolus aureus) as affected by some home traditional processes. Food Chemistry, 89(4):489-495
    [17]  Sokrab AM, Ahmed IAM, Babiker EE (2012). Effect of germination on antinutritional factors, total, and extractable mineral of high and low phytate corn (Zea mays L.) genotypes. J Saudi Soc Ag Sci 11:123-128.
    [18]  Eglie I, Davidsson L, Juillerat MA, Barclay D, Hurrell RF (2002). The influence of soaking and germination on the phytase activity and phytic acid content of grains and seeds potentially useful for complementary feeding. J Food Sci 67(9): 3483-3488.
    [19]  Liang J, Han B-Z, Nout MJR, Hamer RJ (2008). Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice. Food Chemistry 110(4): 821-828.
    [20]  Kataria A, Chauhan BM, Punia D (1989). Antinutrients and protein digestibility (in vitro) of mungbean as affected by domestic processing and cooking. Food Chemistry 32(1): 9-17.[21]  Khattak AB, ZEb A, Bibi N, Khattak SA (2007). Influence of germination techniques on phytic acid and polyphenol content of chickpea (Cicer arietinium L.) sprouts. Food Chemistry, 104(3): 1074-1079.
    [22]  Graf E and Eton JW (1990). Antioxidant functions of phytic acid. Free Radical Biol Med, 8(1):61-69.
    [23]  Cassady BA, et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(3):794-800.
    [24]  Ellis, PR, et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80:604-13.
    [25]  Casas-Agustench P, et al. Effects of one serving of mixed nuts on serum lipids, insulin resistance and inflammatory markers in patients with the metabolic syndrome. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Feb;21(2):126-35.

    Should people with Diverticular Disease eat nuts?

    There’s no good evidence that avoiding nuts is helpful for people with diverticular disease – in fact it may even be counterproductive.37-38  Nuts can be a valuable source of fibre in a high-fibre diet for diverticular disease.

    Are nuts gluten free/ can people with Coeliac Disease eat nuts?

    All nuts are gluten free and so people with Coeliac disease can enjoy them. In fact many gluten-free recipes make use of ground nuts as instead of flour. Check out our gluten-free recipes - they are marked GF in the title.

    Are nuts gluten free?

    Raw and roasted nuts are gluten free provided they don’t have any other flavourings added. Always check the ingredients list for any gluten containing additives such as thickeners or maltodextrins. Nut meals such as almond, hazelnut and chestnut meals are a great alternative to gluten based flours. Adding nuts to a gluten free diet can also help boost the nutrient content of the diet especially when so many other gluten containing foods need to be avoided.

    Check out our recipe section - those recipes marked GF are gluten free.

    Do nuts have a positive effect on blood glucose levels?

    The GI-lowering effect of nuts (see previous answer) means that nuts slow the rise of blood glucose after a carbohydrate-containing meal. High blood glucose after eating is common in people with diabetes and contributes to diabetes-related complications.30

    Do nuts have a Glycemic Index (GI)?

    Only foods which contain enough carbohydrates can be measured for their Glycemic Index (a measure of how high and how fast blood glucose rises after you eat a food). Nuts, apart from chestnuts, don’t contain much carbohydrate, so they do not have a GI. However, nuts have a GI-lowering effect – they reduce the overall GI of a meal.32-34 A low-GI diet has been shown to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and help in its management.35 Chestnuts are unlike the other nuts as they are low in fat and contain low GI carbohydrates (GI=54) so a good alternative to potatoes or flour for stuffings and pancakes.

    Should people with diabetes eat nuts & what are the benefits?

    Of course people with diabetes should eat nuts. As a plant food they have a wide variety of nutritional benefits for people with diabetes. Nuts can reduce the rise in blood glucose after the meal, as they have a GI lowering effect.32-34 Nuts also help to manage other health issues that often affect people with diabetes, for example, weight management, heart disease and high blood pressure. Plus nuts are a source of important nutrients for people with diabetes – healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, vitamins and minerals – and can help meet recommended daily amounts. Check out our Nuts and diabetes factsheet for the full story.

    Are roasted nuts as healthy as raw nuts?

    There are five large population studies that link eating nuts with reduced risk of heart disease.1-5 These studies don’t distinguish between raw and roasted nuts and the participants were likely to be eating a mixture of both. The studies found eating a 30g serve of nuts (natural or roasted) at least five times a week can reduce heart disease risk by 30-50%.1-5

    There is also no apparent difference in the ability of roasted and natural nuts to lower cholesterol. An almond study found that, as part of a healthy diet, both natural and roasted almonds reduced LDL cholesterol with no change in HDL.31

    What effects does roasting have on the healthy fats in nuts?

    Natural nuts do not contain trans fats although there is some evidence that a negligible amount of trans fats are produced after roasting but is dependent on the time and temperature of the roast. Despite this the amount of trans fat is only just measurable between 0.07-0.9%.28-29,40

    Is there a difference in the nutrition composition of raw, dry roasted and oil roasted nuts?

    Both raw and roasted nuts (whether dry or oil roasted) have similar nutrient contents, although there are some small differences. Most nutrients – particularly minerals - become slightly more concentrated during the roasting process as the nuts lose some moisture. B vitamins are not heat stable so their levels are reduced after roasting. However, nuts are not a vitamin B rich food, so the changes have little nutritional significance. We get most of our B group vitamins from carbohydrate foods such as breads and cereals.

    Nuts are naturally high in healthy fats so they are unable to absorb much more fat even if oil roasted. As a result, the total fat of raw and oil roasted nuts varies by only about 5% on average (based on US nutrition compositional data). While natural nuts do not contain trans fats there is some evidence that a negligible amount of trans fats are also produced after roasting but is dependent on the time and temperature of the roast. Despite this the amount of trans fat is only just measurable between 0.07-0.9%. 28,29,40

    How are nuts roasted & in what type of oil?

    Nuts can be roasted with or without oil, and by a roasting process that is either done in batches or continuously. In the case of continuous roasting, the process is similar to batch roasting described below, but the nuts travel through the roasters continuously via a conveyor system, rather than one lot of roasting being completed before another begins.

    Roasting without oil: dry-roasted nuts (also called oven-roasted)

    The nuts are tumbled around in a machine which is similar to a miniature cement mixer, or in a round cylinder which passes over gas fired burners. The nuts are continuously tossed around to prevent scorching or burning and to give an even distribution of heat.

    Dry-roasting can be done at home on the stove in a frying pan, tossing or stirring the nuts gently over the heat, or alternatively in the oven on a baking tray (be sure to stir them around from time to time)

    Roasting with oil: oil-roasted nuts

    Batch oil roasting is where nuts are placed in a stainless steel basket and cooked in hot oil in a machine like a chip fryer. Where as continuous oil roasting conveys the nuts through oil on a mesh conveyor. The Australian nut industry uses either in the same type of oil as the nut (for example macadamias are roasted in macadamia oil) or sometimes in other unsaturated oils, such as peanut, sunflower or canola. The oils are tested for quality before use, and the type of oil is chosen to maximise the freshness and shelf life of the nuts.

    As nuts are already high in healthy fats, they can’t absorb much more, even when oil-roasted, so the amount of fat in all types of nut is very similar. Roasting can intensify the flavour and colour which some people prefer.

    Do nuts contain omega 3s – is there a difference between plant and marine omega 3s?

    Walnuts and to a lesser extent pecans, hazel nuts and macadamias, contain plant omega-3s.24 But these omega-3s act differently to those found in fish and fish oil supplements.

    Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into two types: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids; the omega-3 fats can be further divided into short chain omega-3s (from plants) and long chain omega-3 s (from fish, seafood, Australian pasture-fed meat, eggs and other fortified foods).

    Some polyunsaturated fats are essential fatty acids that must be eaten as they are required for normal growth and development but cannot be made by our body. These include the omega-6 fat linoleic acid (LA), the short chain omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), and the long chain omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA)

    Essential fats play important roles in maintaining cell membranes, regulating many body processes including inflammation and blood clotting, and improving the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from food. Essential fatty acids are also needed for brain and eye development, so vital during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in newborn babies.9

    Do nuts contain cholesterol?

    Cholesterol is made in the liver of animals, so only animal products contain cholesterol.

    Trans fat – what is it, and do nuts contain it?

    Trans fats area type of unsaturated fat, but due to their unusual structure behave more like a saturated fat. They are found in small amounts naturally in meat and dairy products but are mainly found as hydrogenated vegetable oils in foods like chips, biscuits, pastries and snack foods. Margarine spreads in Australia are virtually trans fat free.

    Trans fats increase the level of LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL cholesterol, increasing heart disease risk.26 Nuts are free of trans fat.

    Isn’t saturated fat bad for you – don’t nuts contain saturated fat?

    Nuts do contain a small proportion of saturated fat – but the much higher amounts of healthy unsaturated fat found in nuts24 are considered one of the main reasons why nut eaters have less heart disease than those that never eat nuts.4 A handful of nuts on most days can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 to 50%.1-5

    What fats do nuts contain?

    Any food that contains fat will have all three types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat present but just in different amounts. Nuts are a good source of the healthy fats - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with a much lower proportion of saturated fats and no trans fats. The fat profile of nuts varies from one type to another so including a variety of nuts in your diet is the smart choice and ensures you have a good balance of healthy fats.

    Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios are higher in monounsaturated fats, while Brazil nuts, pine nuts and walnuts have more polyunsaturated fats.24

    Walnuts are one of the few plant foods that contain the essential plant omega-3 fat called Alpha Linolenic Acid or ALA, with smaller amounts found in pecans, hazelnuts and macadamias.24 This is particularly important for vegetarians or anyone who doesn’t eat fish or seafood. ALA is not the same as the fish omega 3s DHA and EPA but still has important heart health functions.25

    Nuts are a healthy high-fat food in a fat-phobic world. It’s time we moved on from the low fat diet mantra of the 1980s-90s to eating a low saturated fat diet. We must eat healthy fat foods such as nuts, avocados and fish, and use healthy cooking oils but avoid the high saturated fat foods which can raise blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.8

    How can nuts help control weight?

    There are many ways nuts can help with weight management

    • Nuts satisfy hunger and reduce appetite – the protein, fibre and fat all act to control appetite and food intake.13-19
    • Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed as around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure.17-20
    • Nuts increase energy expenditure as 10% of the energy they contain is used to fuel the process of digesting the nuts.18
    • Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream giving a lower GI to the whole meal.21-23
    • Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.23 Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain.

    Aren’t nuts high in fat? How can I eat them if I’m trying to lose weight?

    Despite what many people believe, eating nuts regularly can help you to maintain a healthy body weight.1-5 Nuts are a tasty food that people enjoy eating, helping you to stick to your healthy eating plan for longer.11,12 Plus nuts contain nutrients which can help control appetite.

    How is blood cholesterol made?

    Humans and animals make cholesterol in their liver. Cholesterol is an important part of many of the body’s processes.9 There are two types of cholesterol – low density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol and high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol can’t dissolve into the blood so it has to be transported on protein carriers called lipoproteins. LDL cholesterol is considered the bad kind that can get sticky and congest arteries, where as HDL is considered the good kind helping to remove the build up in arteries. Plants do not contain cholesterol, so you won’t find cholesterol in natural plant foods such as nuts or avocados.

    Can nuts lower blood cholesterol?

    Eating nuts regularly can improve blood fats, particularly by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.6,7 A large analysis combining the results of 25 cholesterol lowering studies involving nuts found that an average serve of nuts (around 67g or two handfuls) each day lowered total cholesterol by about 5%, LDL cholesterol by around 7% and triglycerides by about 10%.6

    Can nuts help reduce the risk of heart disease?

    Nuts are on the “must eat” food list if we want to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Studies show eating a handful of nuts (about 30g) 5 to 7 times a week can reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 30-50%.1-5 Even people who only eat nuts once a week have less heart disease than people who never eat nuts.4

    How do nuts affect good and bad cholesterol?

    Not only do nuts improve blood cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol, a number of studies have shown nuts increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.6 One to two handfuls (30-60g) a day, as part of a cholesterol lowering diet, is enough to see blood cholesterol levels improve. 6

    I’ve seen the heart foundation tick on nut packs what does this mean?

    Nuts with the Heart Foundation Tick meet set nutrition criteria developed by the Heart Foundation and include being unsalted.10 The Tick on labels is a tool to help shoppers find healthier choices quickly and easily. However any nut product that is raw, natural or roasted but unsalted can be considered a healthy choice.

    What is the difference between blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol?

    You can eat the fatty substance cholesterol from foods such as eggs and shellfish but your body can also make cholesterol. The cholesterol in foods doesn’t get directly absorbed and converted into cholesterol in your blood. For most people dietary cholesterol in foods has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels. Blood cholesterol is affected most by the fats you eat – in particular saturated fats found mainly in animal foods. Saturated fats increase bad (LDL) cholesterol.8

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