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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.

Why is it easier to recommend vegetables than nuts?

We all know vegetables are healthy and good for you and we need to eat more of them. Doctors, dietitians, chefs and health reporters are all happy and comfortable recommending more vegetables for all. But are they as enthusiastic about recommending we all “eat more nuts” without cautioning the portion? nuts and shopping basket Here are some interesting stats comparing nuts and vegetables: The Australian Health Survey found Australians are eating on average just 6g of nuts a day and only 7% of Australians eat enough vegetables a day.(1) The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends a 30g serve of nuts as part of the “protein” food group and an additional 10g of nuts can be eaten as part of the healthy fat food group. Nuts can be eaten twice a week to twice a day depending on age, gender, energy needs and life stage.(2) Whereas we all need at least 5 serves of vegetables every day eg 2 cups of salad and three ½ cups of cooked veg. To reduce heart disease risk, diabetes risk and mortality we need 30g of nuts a day.(3,4) To lower cholesterol a meta analysis found we need 60g of nuts a day.(5) When eaten as part of a healthy diet, 30g of nuts a day, can contribute to heart health without weight gain.(6) A 2016 AIHW report(7) Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011 found: • A “diet low in nuts and seeds” accounted for 1.4% of all disease and injury burden in 2011 (same as a “diet low in vegetables”), • A “diet low in nuts and seeds” accounted for 16% of burden from coronary heart disease where as it was 10% for a “diet low in vegetables”, • A “diet low in nuts and seeds” accounted for 7.4% of burden from diabetes. A recent US study (8) found not eating enough nuts and seeds is one of the biggest dietary reasons for increasing deaths from heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the US. The study, published in the journal JAMA, revealed the worst dietary issue was eating too much salt (linked to 9.5% of deaths) and second was a low intake of nuts and seeds (linked with 8.5% of deaths). These were ahead of not eating enough fruit and veg, and drinking too many sugary drinks. Let’s recommend nuts with the same enthusiasm as we recommend vegetables. We need to eat more vegetables and we need to eat more nuts. In fact they go well together – adding nuts to salads and vegetables makes veg taste better. How about a simple side Green Beans with Macadamias and Pecans https://www.nutsforlife.com.au/nut-recipes/vegetable-sides. Macadamia and pecan bean salad By Lisa Yates Program Manager, Nuts for Life Published 24 March 2017 References 1.ABS 4364.0.55.007 - Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results - Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.007main+features22011-12 2.National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/Copyright%20update/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines(1).pdf 3.Afshin A et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88. 4.Mayhew AJ et al. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jan 28;115(2):212-25. 5.Del Gobbo LC et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1347-56. 6.Neale E, Nolan-Clark D, Tapsell L. The effect of nut consumption on heart health: A systematic review of the literature. Nuts for Life 2016. 7.Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. BOD 4. Canberra: AIHW. https://www.aihw.gov.au/burden-of-disease/ 8.Micha R, Peñalvo JL et al. Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States. JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924.

10 best nuts for weight control

All tree nuts help manage weight - yes they're high in fat - but it's OK because healthy fats play a role in managing weight. For many years we have avoided fats and followed low fat diets. But not any more. Healthy Fats are Back! Let's take a look at 10 nuts and how they help weight control. Enjoy a healthy handful of nuts each day.

Mixed nut tape measure 3 FB

ALMONDS

Adding almonds to meals not only helps you feel fuller for longer after that meal, but also the following meal too. Possibly the healthy fats, protein and fibre in almonds plays a role. Add almonds to breakfast and reap the rewards at lunch. High insulin levels can lead to weight gain so it's good news that eating almonds regularly can help lower insulin levels(1,2).

BRAZIL NUTS

A new study has found higher body fatness appears to be linked with lower levels of vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and selenium(3). Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, magnesium and zinc. Just 2 brazil nuts a day provides 100% of the RDI for selenium. And nuts such as almonds and hazelnut contain vitamin E.

CASHEWS

Like other nuts, cashews contain protein (17g/100g) and fibre (6g/100g). Protein and fibre help control appetite by increasing satiety or the feeling of fullness(4,5). Toss some cashews through your next stir-fry or Indian pilaf.

CHESTNUTS

Chestnuts are not like other nuts as they are low in fat and rich in carbohydrates. These carbs are low GI (glycemic index) and cause a slow rise in blood glucose which helps control appetite(6). Chestnuts have a short season so don't miss out - look out for them in Autumn. They go well with other nuts, or with dried fruit for poultry stuffings.

HAZELNUTS

A research study found eating 30g of hazelnuts a day was well accepted and resulted in an improvement in diet quality with no adverse effect on weight. Diets that contain healthy fats are considered more enjoyable with greater compliance(7,8). Eat a healthy handful of hazelnuts every day to boost your weight loss success.

MACADAMIAS

Macadamias are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats with 80% of the fat being monounsaturated fat. Research has found that following a high monounsaturated fat diet was associated with a reduction in body weight(9). Enjoy a handful of macadamias in your weight loss eating plan.

PECANS

Research has found adding pecans to a cholesterol lowering diet doesn't cause weight gain(10), but you need to eat nuts in place of other foods. Make healthy swaps - add pecans to your breakfast muesli, or add them to your vegetables to make them taste so much better.

PINE NUTS

Pine nut oil has been found to release satiety hormones in the intestine (11), which helps feelings of fullness and reduces the desire for eating. Pine nuts go well with Mediterranean dishes - pestos and pasta sauces.

PISTACHIOS

Like other nuts, adding pistachios to meals containing carbohdyrates helps reduce the rise in blood glucose following the meal. This helps control appetite and type 2 diabetes(12). Add this gorgeous green and purple nut to your salads and try using pistachios instead of pine nuts in pesto.

WALNUTS

The very first study to assess the impact of nuts on health was in 1993, a little over 20 years ago, and they included walnuts in a cholesterol lowering diet(13). This study was responsible for changing the way people thought about nuts. Once considered being full of fat and bad for health, we now know that eating a handful of nuts every day is vital for reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity among many other conditions. Healthy fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and eating wholefoods is the key to health and wellbeing.

What type of nuts will you eat as a snack or add to your meals today?

References

1) Mori AM et al. Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jan 28;8(1):6
  • 2) Jenkins DJ et al. Effect of almonds on insulin secretion and insulin resistance in nondiabetic hyperlipidemic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7):882-7.
  • 3) Hosseini B, Saedisomeolia A, Allman-Farinelli M. Association Between Antioxidant Intake/Status and Obesity: a Systematic Review of Observational Studies.Biol Trace Elem Res. 2017 Feb;175(2):287-297.
  • 4) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(S1):169-71.
  • 5) Pereira MA, et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001;48(4):969-8
  • 6) Roberts SB. Glycemic index and satiety. Nutr Clin Care. 2003 Jan-Apr;6(1):20-6.
  • 7) Tey SL et al. The dose of hazelnuts influences acceptance and diet quality but not inflammatory markers and body composition in overweight and obese individuals. J Nutr. 2013 Aug;143(8):1254-62.
  • 8) McManus K, Antinoro L, Sacks F. A randomized controlled trial of a moderate-fat, low-energy diet compared with a low fat, low-energy diet for weight loss in overweight adults.Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Oct;25(10):1503-11.
  • 9) Schwingshackl L, Strasser B, Hoffmann G. Effects of monounsaturated fatty acids on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;59(2-4):176-86.
  • 10) Rajaram S et al. A monounsaturated fatty acid-rich pecan-enriched diet favorably alters the serum lipid profile of healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2001 Sep;131(9):2275-9.
  • 11) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Mar 20;7:10.
  • 12) Kendall CW et al. Acute effects of pistachio consumption on glucose and insulin, satiety hormones and endothelial function in the metabolic syndrome. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;68(3):370-5.
  • 13) Sabaté J et al. Effects of walnuts on serum lipid levels and blood pressure in normal men. N Engl J Med. 1993 Mar 4;328(9):603-7.

    Published Feb 2017
  • Can nuts help reduce macular degeneration?

    Yes, nuts can help reduce age related macular degeneration (MD). MD is where a small section of the retina called the macula degenerates with age and affects central vision. The macula is a yellow spot and is rich in carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthins. These carotenoids are carried to the eye on HDL good cholesterol. Regular nut consumption reduces the risk of developing MD (1), with research showing 1-2 handfuls of nuts a week can reduce MD by 35% (2).

    References:
    1) Seddon JM, Cote J, Rosner B. Progression of age-related macular degeneration: association with dietary fat, transunsaturated fat, nuts, and fish intake.Arch Ophthalmol. 2003 Dec;121(12):1728-37.
    2) Tan JS, Wang JJ, Flood V, Mitchell P. Dietary fatty acids and the 10-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study.Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 May;127(5):656-65.

    Published 10 Jan 2017

    Can nuts help with cognition and memory?

    Yes, nut can help with cognition and memory, specifically improving mild cognitive impairment - the step before Alzheimer's and dementia. The combination of healthy fats and phytochemicals, and nutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in nuts may help protect vital functions of the brain and it's blood vessels. All it takes is a handful of nuts a day.

    References:
    1) Arab L, Ang A. A cross sectional study of the association between walnut consumption and cognitive function among adult US populations represented in NHANES.J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Mar;19(3):284-90.
    2) Rita Cardoso B, Apolinário D, da Silva Bandeira V, Busse AL, Magaldi RM, Jacob-Filho W, Cozzolino SM. Effects of Brazil nut consumption on selenium status and cognitive performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Feb;55(1):107-16.
    3) O'Brien J, Okereke O, Devore E, Rosner B, Breteler M, Grodstein F. Long-term intake of nuts in relation to cognitive function in older women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2014 May;18(5):496-502.
    4) Barbour JA, Howe PR, Buckley JD, Bryan J, Coates AM. Nut consumption for vascular health and cognitive function. Nutr Res Rev. 2014 Jun;27(1):131-58.
    5) Martínez-Lapiscina EH et al. Mediterranean diet improves cognition: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomised trial.J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Dec;84(12):1318-25.

    Published 10 Jan 2017

    What effect do nuts have on blood pressure?

    The evidence of the impact of nuts on blood pressure is mixed. A 2015 meta analysis combining the effects of several studies found no difference in blood pressure in nut eaters(1). Yet more recent clinical trials have expanded the body of knowledge and eating nuts appears to reduce blood pressure through helping blood vessels stay elastic (endothlial dilation)(2-3). Studies looking at healthy eating patterns that include nuts have also shown improvements in blood pressure(4-6). Overall, they show that adding a handful of nuts to a healthy diet is the key to improving blood pressure.

    An interesting new area of research for nuts is whether salted nuts still help reduce blood pressure and the research done to date in pistachios and hazelnuts suggests that they can(3,7,8). It's likely all the nutrients in nuts work together to generate positive outcomes just as all foods in healthy diets work together to generate positive outcomes.

    Until there is more research, including unsalted nuts in a healthy daily diet with a variety of foods will help reduce blood pressure. But for now, enjoy salted nuts on special occasion as healthier party foods.

    References:
    1) Del Gobbo LC et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials.Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1347-56.
    2) Dhillon J, Tan SY, Mattes RD. Almond Consumption during Energy Restriction Lowers Truncal Fat and Blood Pressure in Compliant Overweight or Obese Adults.J Nutr. 2016 Dec;146(12):2513-2519.
    3) Tey SL et al Do dry roasting, lightly salting nuts affect their cardioprotective properties and acceptability? Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]
    4) Ndanuko RN et al. Dietary Patterns and Blood Pressure in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.Adv Nutr. 2016 Jan 15;7(1):76-89.
    5) Jenkins DJ et al. The effect of a dietary portfolio compared to a DASH-type diet on blood pressure.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Dec;25(12):1132-9.
    6) Storniolo CE et al. A Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts improves endothelial markers involved in blood pressure control in hypertensive women.Eur J Nutr. 2015 Oct 8. [Epub ahead of print]
    7) Sauder KA et al. Pistachio nut consumption modifies systemic hemodynamics, increases heart rate variability, and reduces ambulatory blood pressure in well-controlled type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial.J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 30;3(4). pii: e000873.
    8) West SG et al. Diets containing pistachios reduce systolic blood pressure and peripheral vascular responses to stress in adults with dyslipidemia.Hypertension. 2012 Jul;60(1):58-63.

    Published 10 Jan 2017

    Are salted nuts bad for you?

    Salted nuts still contain all the nutrition and health benefits of raw or natural nuts - they just have a higher sodium content.

    In general, a diet high in sodium can increase blood pressure which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes).

    Some new research however, has found participants given salted nuts as part of a healthy diet had the same health benefits of unsalted nuts with no rise in blood pressure. It's possible all the other heart healthy nutrients in nuts (healthy fats, arginine, fibre, antixidants: vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium and polyphenols) offset any negative effects of salt. And because people like the taste of salted nuts, they are likely to consume nuts more often instead of other unhealthy snack foods.

    At this stage, until more research is undertaken we recommend making raw/dry roasted unsalted nuts your everyday nut choice, and enjoy salted nuts as a healthier party food alternative.

    References:
    1) Sauder KA et al. Pistachio nut consumption modifies systemic hemodynamics, increases heart rate variability, and reduces ambulatory blood pressure in well-controlled type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial.J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 30;3(4). pii: e000873.
    2) West SG et al. Diets containing pistachios reduce systolic blood pressure and peripheral vascular responses to stress in adults with dyslipidemia.Hypertension. 2012 Jul;60(1):58-63.
    3) Tey SL et al. Do dry roasting, lightly salting nuts affect their cardioprotective properties and acceptability? Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jan 8. [Epub ahead of print]

    Published 10 Jan 2017

    What nuts can you eat in a Mediterranean diet?

    Many nut varieties are part of a traditional Mediterranean diet including pine nuts and hazelnuts. One study called PREDIMED, followed 7500 older people at high risk of heart disease for nearly 5 years. The study was stopped because the ethics committee could not in good faith let the study continue knowing those not eating nuts were missing out on the health benefits being seen in those eating nuts. They were eating 30grams of nuts every day as 15g of walnuts, 7.5g of almonds and 7.5g of hazelnuts.

    This one study has already published some 80 papers from the results.
    Overall these nut eaters had:
    1) a lower risk of developing heart disease
    2) a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome
    3) a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
    4) less belly fat
    5) better blood cholesterol
    6) more antioxdants present
    7) better cognition and memory
    8) longer telomeres which are thought to indicate aging and longevity

    nuts_infog_predimed

    More information can be read in our summary document here Nuts PREDIMED brochure_2015 update FINAL Published Jan 2017

    What type of sugar is in nuts?

    To the sugar free fanatics, eating any form of sugar is banned but this can mean little is left in the diet to eat since many naturally healthy foods contain sugars. Takes nuts for instance - not really thought of as "sugary" foods - yet they naturally contain sugars in the form of sucrose (which is the form of sugar in sugar cane). Since nuts are seeds, these sugars provide some energy for when the seed germinates. This is when energy is needed to produce a root and shoot for a new nut tree to grow. Nut varieties naturally contain a tiny 2-6g of sugars per 100g or around 1-2g of sugar per 30g handful. Of course, there are party nuts which also contain added sugars e.g. honey coated, chocolate coated and vienna almonds. Leave these nuts for special occasions and enjoy a healthy handful of raw, roasted unsalted nuts everyday.

    Published Jan 2017

    Are pistachio nuts good for people with diabetes?

    Yes, pistachios are good for people with type 2 diabetes. Research has found that when pistachios are eaten with carbohydrate foods, they help slow the rise in blood glucose following a meal. This improves blood glucose control and helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. Less snacking means less energy is eaten, and a greater chance of weight loss which will also improve diabetes control. It seems pistachios affect genetic material involved in insulin sensitivity too and they help stop arteries from becoming too stiff which can lead to high blood pressure.

    So many reasons to eat a healthy handful of nuts such as pistachios each day.

    References:
    1) Sauder KA, McCrea CE, Ulbrecht JS, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG. Effects of pistachios on the lipid/lipoprotein profile, glycemic control, inflammation, and endothelial function in type 2 diabetes: A randomized trial. Metabolism. 2015 Nov;64(11):1521-9.
    2) Hernández-Alonso P et al. Chronic pistachio intake modulates circulating microRNAs related to glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in prediabetic subjects. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print]
    3) Bulló M, Juanola-Falgarona M, Hernández-Alonso P, Salas-Salvadó J. Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts. Br J Nutr. 2015 Apr;113 Suppl 2:S79-93.
    4) Kasliwal RR, Bansal M, Mehrotra R, Yeptho KP, Trehan N. Effect of pistachio nut consumption on endothelial function and arterial stiffness. Nutrition. 2015 May;31(5):678-85.

    Published Jan 2017

    Do nuts have a glycemic index (GI) rating?

    Only cashews and chestnuts have been tested for GI because these are the only nuts that contain enough carbohdyrate to be GI tested. The GI of cashews is 25 and for chestnut meal, the GI is 54. GI is a ranking between 0 and 100 with anything less than 55 considered 'low GI'. Low GI foods are digested and absorbed more slowly, causing a slow rise in blood glucose which means better type 2 diabetes control and better appetite control.

    GI is dependent on the size of the food particles - the smaller the particles, the faster the digestion rate and the higher the GI. Chestnut meal or ground chestnuts would have a higher GI than whole chestnuts for instance.

    While all the other nuts do not have a GI ranking themselves, they can cause a lower GI effect when eaten with other carbohdyrate foods. This is because nuts are complex structures which takes time to digest, slowing the whole passage of food through the intestine and slowing the rise of blood glucose after a meal.

    Nuts are a great afternoon-tea snack, helping to control appetite, keeping you feeling fuller for longer until dinner. Adding nuts to meals will also help increase fullness.

    Published Jan 2017

    Can people with diabetes (diabetics) eat nuts?

    Yes, people with diabetes can eat nuts and there are many reasons why they should eat nuts regularly.

    People with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease and are also likely to be overweight compared to those without diabetes. Daily nut consumption can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease while also helping to control blood glucose, blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

    Nuts are generally a low carbohydrate snack and those nuts that contain carbohydrates (cashews and chestnuts) contain low glycemic index carbs. A handful of nuts make a perfect afternoon-tea snack and adding nuts to meals with carbs will help lower the rise in blood glucose after a meal.

    References:
    1) Li TY, Brennan AM, Wedick NM, Mantzoros C, Rifai N, Hu FB. Regular consumption of nuts is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women with type 2 diabetes.J Nutr. 2009 Jul;139(7):1333-8.
    2) Viguiliouk E, Kendall CW, Blanco Mejia S, et al. Effect of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled dietary trials. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 30;9(7):e103376.
    3) Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. Nuts, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104(4):465-73.

    Published Jan 2017

    Do nuts help insulin resistance?

    Yes, nuts help with insulin resistance. But what is insulin resistance?

    Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in response to eating carbohydrate foods. Once carbohydrate rich foods are digested and absorbed into the blood stream as glucose - the simplest carbohydrate, insulin is responsible for moving the glucose into the cells where the energy factories make energy for the body. Insulin resistance is where the body's cells resist the action of insulin and the pancreas needs to produce even greater levels of insulin to see that same result. Insulin has a sneaky side effect - it can also slow the breakdown of body fat so belly fat accumulates. This can worsen insulin resistance and the cycle starts again. Inflammation plays a role in insulin resistance too.

    If left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and obesity.

    Nuts can help insulin resistance in several ways:
    1) Reduce the rise in blood glucose - if blood glucose levels remain in the normal range, the pancreas doesn't need to produce abnormal levels of insulin. Nuts help slow the digestion of carbohydrate rich foods, lowering the rise in blood glucose following a meal
    2) Reduce inflammation - nuts contain phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
    3) Reduce weight gain and help with weight management - less belly fat means insulin works more effectively.

    Eating a healthy handful of nuts each day is a great place to start to improve insulin resistance.

    References:
    1) Casas-Agustench, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):124-30.

    Published Jan 2017

    What are the health star ratings for nuts?

    The Health Star Ratings were not designed for fresh produce items although it is expected that anything in a pack will have a health star rating. As a result, the Australian Tree Nut Industry is adding health stars to bags of nuts.

    Health stars for a food product are developed based on the levels of energy, saturated fat, sugar, sodium, protein, fibre and what percentage of the product contains fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legume ingredients.

    Unfortunately for some nuts, they lose stars because of their natural saturated fat content. Nuts cannot be reformulated like other products so some nuts are disadvantaged by health stars but, like all fruits and vegetables, raw, dry roasted and unsalted nuts score 4 to 5 stars out of five stars.

    Almonds - 5 stars
    Brazil nuts - 4 stars
    Cashews - 4.5 stars
    Chestnuts - 5 stars
    Hazelnuts - 5 stars
    Macadamias - 4 stars
    Pecans - 4.5 stars
    Pine nuts - 4.5 stars
    Pistachios - 5 stars
    Walnuts - 5 stars

    Published Jan 2017

    What are antioxidants and do nuts contain them?

    Antioxidants are natural plant chemicals or phytochemicals with special properties. They can quelch other natural chemicals called oxidants which may effect body cells negatively. Oxidants may cause aging and chronic diseases through inflammation. It's also thought that oxidants can "oxidise" cholesterol causing it to stick to the walls of arteries leading to atheroschlerosis.

    So, phytochemicals with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce chronic disease and aging. Plant foods such as nuts are particularly rich in phytochemicals such as polyphenols or vitamins and minerals with antioxidant functions such as vitamin E, riboflavin, selenium, manganese and copper.

    A handful of nuts a day not only improves diet quality by ensuring a good mix of nutrients in the diet, but they also help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

    Published Jan 2017

    What are the healthiest nuts?

    All raw, roasted and unsalted nuts are healthy. This may surprise some people because for so long we have been told to eat less fat and nuts have been off the dieters menu. Fortunately this is no longer the case, and nuts with their healthy fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. Those who eat nuts regularly are at less risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, have healthier body weights and are likely to live longer than those who don't. Nut eaters also have greater diet quality because nuts are rich in a unique combination of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

    It's also OK to eat salted and coated nuts but leave these as your party nuts for special occasions and enjoy raw and roasted unsalted nuts every day.

    Published Jan 2017

    How many nuts should you eat in a day?

    At least a handful or 30g every day. Large population studies have found those that eat a handful of nuts every day are at less risk of heart disease and diabetes, they weigh less and will likely live longer. But if you need to lower your blood cholesterol, research suggests you need two handfuls a day or around 60g of nuts each day.

    Published January 2017

    What vitamins and minerals are in nuts?

    Nuts are like nature's own vitamin supplement - a small package of essential nutrients.

    Nuts contain a combination of at least 28 different essential nutrients. And similar to fruits and vegetables, each nut has it's own unique combination.

    Generally, nuts contain:

    Vitamin E - an antioxidant that helps protect tissues from damage
    Folate - a B vitamin associated with heart health
    Magnesium - a mineral essential for good nerve and muscle function
    Zinc - a mineral required for a strong immune system
    Iron - a mineral involved in various bodily functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood.

    All nuts also contribute protein, good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and fibre.

    For a complete list of all the nutrients that each nut contains see our Nut Nutrient Ready Reckoner

    Last update October 2016

    Which nuts have the most calories (energy)?

    All nuts contains calories/kilojoules (both are measures of energy) but when it comes to nuts there's no need to count calories(1).

    However, despite nuts being high in energy, there is loads of evidence stating that they do not contribute to weight gain. In fact, evidence spanning the last 24 years has shown that, compared with those who don't eat nuts, nut eaters:

  • Tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) (2-6)
  • Are less likely to gain weight over time (7-10)
    So incorporating a handful of nuts in a healthy diet will help with weight management.

    References:
    1) Nuts for Life. Nutrient composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.
    2) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    5) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    6) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    7) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404.
    9) Martínez-González MA et al. Nut consumption, weight gain and obesity: Epidemiological evidence. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21 Suppl 1:S40-5.
    10) Jackson CL et al. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:408s-411s.

    Last update October 2016
  • What are the lowest calorie nuts?

    Chestnuts contain the least calories or energy. They are quite different to other nuts nutritionally, as they are low in fat and are a good source of low GI carbohydrate and fibre. Making them more like grains that tree nuts. But remember, the calories in nuts doesn't impact their ability to influence weight. In fact, there is loads of evidence stating that nuts do not contribute to weight gain. Evidence spanning the last 24 years has shown that, compared with those who don't eat nuts, nut eaters:

  • Tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) (2-6)
  • Are less likely to gain weight over time (7-10)

    What's also interesting is we don't absorb all the fat and hence calories when eating whole nuts. About 20% is excreted in stools because the fat is trapped in the fibrous structure of the nuts.

    So whatever nut takes your fancy, you can enjoy them knowing that you can actually maintain a healthy body weight and not cause weight gain.

    References:
    1) Nuts for Life. Nutrient composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.
    2) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    5) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    6) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    7) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404.
    9) Martínez-González MA et al. Nut consumption, weight gain and obesity: Epidemiological evidence. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21 Suppl 1:S40-5.
    10) Jackson CL et al. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:408s-411s.

    Last update October 2016
  • Are peanuts good for people with heart disease?

    While “nut” is in their name, peanuts are in fact legumes. Peanuts grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. that grow on trees (and are referred to as "tree nuts"). However, peanuts have a very similar nutrient composition to tree nuts, and therefore share many of the properties and health benefits of tree nuts.

    The large population (epidemiology) studies which show benefits in eating nuts for reducing the risk of heart disease include tree nuts (1-5). A review conducted in 2008 (6) concluded that "there is impressive evidence from epidemiological and clinical trials of the beneficial effects of nut (and peanut) consumption and their constituents on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), including sudden death".

    So, it appears that a well balanced diet that includes nuts and peanuts can markedly benefit health and reduce CVD risk.

    Nuts for Life is a nutrition and health education initiative established for the Australian Tree Nut industry to provide information about the nutrition and health benefits of tree nuts.

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Kris-Etherton PM et al. The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of CHD: multiple potential mechanisms. J Nutr. 2008 Sep;138(9):1746S-1751S.

    Last update October 2016

    Are nuts fatty?

    It depends on your definition of "fatty". If you're asking "are nuts rich in fats" then yes, all nuts (with the exception of chestnuts) are 'fatty'. At least half of the all the nutrients in nuts is actually fat.

    Nuts are a good source of the healthy or good fats - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with much lower proportions of the bad - saturated fats and virtually no trans fats. The fat profile of each nuts varies, so including a variety of nuts in your diet is a smart choice and ensures you have a good balance of healthy fats.

    Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios are higher in monounsaturated fats; whereas Brazil nuts, pine nuts and walnuts have more polyunsaturated fats (1).

    Walnuts are one of the few plant foods that also contain an essential polyunsaturated fat - a plant omega-3 fat called Alpha Linolenic Acid or ALA, with smaller amounts found in pecans, hazelnuts and macadamias (1). 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 it still has important heart health functions (2).

    The other "fatty" question is "are nuts fattening" and the answer to this is no. Nuts are a healthy high-fat food in a fat-phobic world. It’s time we moved on from the low fat weight loss diet mantra of the 1980s-90s to enjoying foods high in healthy fats such as nuts, avocados and fish, and use healthy cooking oils. Nuts actual help with weight management. They prevent weight regain and when eaten as part of a healthy diet can help reduce body weight (3).

    References:
    1) Nuts For Life. Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.
    2) De Lorgeril M et al. Alpha-linolenic acid and coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2004;14(3):162-9.
    3) Tan SY, Dhillon J, Mattes RD. A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism, and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:412S-22S.

    Last update October 2016

    Do pecans help you lose weight?

    Whilst there's not a lot of evidence on pecans per say, and losing weight, there's loads of evidence on nuts in general and weight management.

    In both large population based studies and clinical trials, nut consumption can help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Studies have shown that nut eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and those that include nuts in their diets are less likely to gain weight over time (1-10).

    There are several ways in which nuts help to manage body weight:

    - Nuts satisfy hunger and reduce appetite – the protein, fibre and fat all act to control appetite and food intake (11-17).
    - Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed. Research suggests around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure (15-18).
    - Nuts increase energy expenditure. It's been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them (16).
    - Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow the digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream, which satisfies the appetite for longer (19-21).
    - Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (21). Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and nuts have been shown to reduce insulin levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity.
    - Nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with their weight loss plan if the plan contains nuts - so they achieve greater success.

    So include a handful of nuts such as pecans in a healthy daily diet to help manage weight.

    References:
    1) O'Neil CE. et al. Tree nut consumption is associated with better nutrient adequacy and diet quality in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):595-607. 2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Jaceldo-Siegl K. et al. Tree nuts are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity: the Adventist health study-2. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85133. 6) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    7) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404. 9) Casas-Agustench P. et al. Cross-sectional association of nut intake with adiposity in a Mediterranean population. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21(7):518-525.
    10) Flores-Mateo G. et al. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1346-55.
    11) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17(S1):169-71.
    12) Pereira MA et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001; 48(4):969-80.
    13) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    14) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    15) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    16) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    17) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.
    18) Traoret CJ et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008; 32(2):322-8.
    19) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006; 136(12):2987-92.
    20) Sujatha R et al. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006; 96(S2):S79–86.
    21) Casas-Agustench P et al. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19(1):124-130.

    Last update October 2016

    Do pecans make you gain weight?

    Whilst there's not a lot of evidence on pecans per say, and gaining weight, there's loads of evidence on nuts in general and weight management.

    In both large population based studies and clinical trials, nut consumption can help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Studies have shown that nut eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and those that include nuts in their diets are less likely to gain weight over time (1-10).

    There are several ways in which nuts help to manage body weight:

    - Nuts satisfy hunger and reduce appetite – the protein, fibre and fat all act to control appetite and food intake (11-17).
    - Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed. Research suggests around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure (15-18).
    - Nuts increase energy expenditure. It's been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them (16).
    - Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow the digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream, which satisfies the appetite for longer (19-21).
    - Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (21). Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and nuts have been shown to reduce insulin levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity.
    - Nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with their weight loss plan if the plan contains nuts - so they achieve greater success.

    So enjoying a handful of nuts such as pecans each day is a great weight management strategy.

    References:
    1) O'Neil CE. et al. Tree nut consumption is associated with better nutrient adequacy and diet quality in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):595-607. 2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Jaceldo-Siegl K. et al. Tree nuts are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity: the Adventist health study-2. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85133. 6) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    7) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404. 9) Casas-Agustench P. et al. Cross-sectional association of nut intake with adiposity in a Mediterranean population. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21(7):518-525.
    10) Flores-Mateo G. et al. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1346-55.
    11) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17(S1):169-71.
    12) Pereira MA et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001; 48(4):969-80.
    13) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    14) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    15) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    16) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    17) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.
    18) Traoret CJ et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008; 32(2):322-8.
    19) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006; 136(12):2987-92.
    20) Sujatha R et al. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006; 96(S2):S79–86.
    21) Casas-Agustench P et al. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19(1):124-130.

    Last update October 2016

    Can walnuts make you gain weight?

    Whilst there's not a lot of evidence on walnuts per say, and losing weight, there's loads of evidence on nuts in general and weight management.

    In both large population based studies and clinical trials, nut consumption can help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Studies have shown that nut eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and those that include nuts in their diets are less likely to gain weight over time (1-10).

    There are several ways in which nuts help to manage body weight:

    - Nuts satisfy hunger and reduce appetite – the protein, fibre and fat all act to control appetite and food intake (11-17).
    - Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed. Research suggests around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure (15-18).
    - Nuts increase energy expenditure. It's been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them (16).
    - Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow the digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream, which satisfies the appetite for longer (19-21).
    - Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (21). Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and nuts have been shown to reduce insulin levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity.
    - Nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with their weight loss plan if the plan contains nuts - so they achieve greater success.

    So incorporating a handful of nuts such as walnuts in the diet is a great strategy for managing weight.

    References:
    1) O'Neil CE. et al. Tree nut consumption is associated with better nutrient adequacy and diet quality in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):595-607. 2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Jaceldo-Siegl K. et al. Tree nuts are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity: the Adventist health study-2. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85133. 6) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    7) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404. 9) Casas-Agustench P. et al. Cross-sectional association of nut intake with adiposity in a Mediterranean population. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21(7):518-525.
    10) Flores-Mateo G. et al. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1346-55.
    11) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17(S1):169-71.
    12) Pereira MA et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001; 48(4):969-80.
    13) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    14) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    15) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    16) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    17) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.
    18) Traoret CJ et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008; 32(2):322-8.
    19) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006; 136(12):2987-92.
    20) Sujatha R et al. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006; 96(S2):S79–86.
    21) Casas-Agustench P et al. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19(1):124-130.

    Last update October 2016

    How do nuts fit into the Australian Dietary Guidelines?

    Nuts are considered part of the "protein" food group and are therefore in a food group with other protein-rich foods like lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu and legumes. These foods are considered an essential part of a healthy diet, providing protein as well as iron and zinc. Nuts and seeds also provide essential fatty acids, phytochemicals and vitamin E.

    The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 1-3 serves of these protein foods each day, where a serve of nuts is 30g.

    The dietary modelling that underpins the Australian Dietary Guidelines included a 30g serve of nuts every day as part of the foundation diets.

    In addition, 10g of nuts can also be a swap in the fats and oils group.

    So overall, a handful of nuts every day is an essential core food in a healthy diet for everyone.

    Note: whole nuts are not recommended for children under 3 years due to the risk of choking. Nut pastes or butters can be included after 6 months of age.

    Last updated December 2016

    Are nuts considered a healthy snack for kids?

    Absolutely. A handful of nuts each day is a valuable inclusion in your child's diet. Nuts are a particularly nutritious food, rich in healthy fats, high in fibre, a source of protein and contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (1). Nuts make a convenient, healthy and filling snack, and are a good replacement for less nutritious snack foods such as chips, biscuits, muffins and lollies. If your child goes to a "nut free" school nuts are a perfect after school snack to tie them over until dinner. Research in children also shows that nut eaters have healthier body weights and have a lower risk of heart disease (2,3).

    So, a handful of nuts everyday is a smart snack for kids*.

    * It is recommended to introduce nut butters or pastes from around 6 months of age, and to avoid whole nuts until around 3 years due to the risk of choking.

    References:
    1) Nuts for Life. 2016 Nutrient composition of tree nuts.
    2) Nuts for Life. Nuts and the Big Fat Myth - The positive role of nuts in weight management. Nuts for life 2016.
    3) Mikkila V et al. Major dietary patterns and cardiovascular risk factors from childhood to adulthood. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Br J Nutr. 2007;98(1):218-25.

    Published December 2016

    What are the health benefits of cashews?

    Cashews, like other tree nuts, contain healthy unsaturated fats plus a broad range of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which are all essential for good health.

    Like other nuts, cashews:
    - Help reduce heart disease risk - eating a handful of nuts at least 5 times a week can reduce heart disease risk by 30-50% (1-5).
    - Help with weight management - although high in fat, research has shown nuts help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Those eating nuts are also more likely to have a lower BMI (6,7).
    - Help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (5,8). Cashews have a low GI of 25 (9) and a low-GI diet can also help manage insulin levels. Cashews are:
    - rich in healthy monounsaturated fats
    - a source of low GI carbohydrate
    - a good source of plant protein
    - a source of zinc, magnesium and copper
    - good for vegetarians as they contain plant iron.

    Resources:
    1) Ellsworth JL, et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Womens Health Study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis.2001;11(6):372-377.
    2) Fraser GE, et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study.Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(7):1416-1424.
    3) Hu FB, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ.1998;317(7169):1341-1345.
    4) Li TY, et al. Regular Consumption of Nuts Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women with Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr. 2009;6:6. 5) Afshin A, et al. Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.
    6) Neale E. et al. The effect of nut consumption on heart health: a systematic review of the literature. 2015 Unpublished. Nuts For Life, Sydney.
    7) Flores-Mateo G. et al. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1346-55.
    8) Livesey G. et al. Glycemic response and health - a systematic review and meta-analysis: relations between dietary glycemic properties and health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(1)258s-268s.
    9) www.glycemicindex.com

    Last update October 2016

    Are cashew nuts good for weight loss?

    Whilst there's not a lot of evidence on cashew per say and weight loss, there's loads of evidence on nuts in general and weight management.

    In both large population based studies and clinical trials, nut consumption can help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Studies have shown that nut eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and those that include nuts in their diets are less likely to gain weight over time (1-10).

    There are several ways in which nuts help to manage body weight:

    - Nuts satisfy hunger and reduce appetite – the protein, fibre and fat all act to control appetite and food intake (11-17).
    - Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed. Research suggests around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure (15-18).
    - Nuts increase energy expenditure. It's been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them (16).
    - Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow the digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream, which satisfies the appetite for longer (19-21).
    - Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (21). Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and nuts have been shown to reduce insulin levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity.
    - Nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with their weight loss plan if the plan contains nuts - so they achieve greater success.

    References:
    1) O'Neil CE. et al. Tree nut consumption is associated with better nutrient adequacy and diet quality in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2010. Nutrients. 2015;7(1):595-607. 2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Jaceldo-Siegl K. et al. Tree nuts are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity: the Adventist health study-2. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85133. 6) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    7) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    8) Mozaffarian D et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404. 9) Casas-Agustench P. et al. Cross-sectional association of nut intake with adiposity in a Mediterranean population. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21(7):518-525.
    10) Flores-Mateo G. et al. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(6):1346-55.
    11) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17(S1):169-71.
    12) Pereira MA et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001; 48(4):969-80.
    13) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    14) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    15) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    16) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    17) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.
    18) Traoret CJ et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008; 32(2):322-8.
    19) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006; 136(12):2987-92.
    20) Sujatha R et al. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006; 96(S2):S79–86.
    21) Casas-Agustench P et al. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19(1):124-130.

    Last update October 2016

    Are cashews really fattening?

    Cashews, like other nuts, are high in fat (primarily the healthy unsaturated fats). But does this make cashews fattening?

    The answer is no. In fact, there's loads of evidence showing that nut consumption (including cashews) can help with weight management and can prevent weight gain. Both large population studies and clinical trials have shown that those who eat nuts tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and are less likely to gain weight over time (1-7). Nuts, such as cashews, can also add enjoyment to a weight management diet because of their taste and texture. This means people stick to their weight management diets for longer with greater success.

    Cashews are also packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health.

    So, there's no reason to fear fat, or to fear gaining weight from eating cashews or any other nut for that matter.

    References:
    1) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    2) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    3) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    4) Sabate J. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3 Suppl):647s-650s.
    5) Jaceldo-Siegl K. et al. Tree nuts are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity: the Adventist health study-2. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e85133.
    6) Jackson CL et al. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:408s-411s.
    7) Tan SY. et al. A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:412s-422s.

    Last update Jan 2017

    What are tree nuts?

    The tree nut family includes (but is not limited to) almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Tree nuts are different to peanuts as they are from a different family. As the name suggests, tree nuts grow on trees and are a hard-shelled fruit, whereas peanuts are a legume and grow underground.

    Published December 2016

    How do you roast nuts?

    Roasting nuts at home is a simple way to deepen their flavour, making them taste ... nuttier. It also gives them a crisper texture which really makes a difference when adding nuts to salads or desserts.

    You can roast nuts with or without oil.

    Roasting nuts with oil - it's nice to match the oil with the nut, although it's not essential.
    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
    2. Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. If using oil, use the least amount to coat evenly.
    3. Roast for 8-12 minutes, but check every 5 minutes, stirring to ensure they are roasting evenly.
    4. When the nuts are browned and smell nutty, remove from the oven and cool on a different plate to ensure they do not continue to brown.

    Alternatively, you could coat nuts in egg white by mixing the nuts with egg white in a zip lock bag, then pouring them out on a tray and baking them as above.

    Published December 2016

    Can chestnuts be activated?

    No, it is not recommended to activate chestnuts.

    In some countries, nuts are traditionally soaked before using in various ways. Soaking is thought to 'activate' the nut or cause it to germinate by breaking down some of the fibrous components, making them more digestible and the nutrient more available.

    Chestnuts are quite different from other nuts both nutritionally and in a culinary sense. Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, are low in fat, are a good source of low GI carbohydrate, and have a similar texture to a baked potato.

    Once picked, chestnuts can spontaneously germinate (activate) which leaves a funny taste and 'taints' the flavour of the chestnut. Growers therefore try to prevent the germination process via placing them in cold storage. It is for this reason that the activation of chestnuts is not recommended.

    Finally, there appears to be no published literature of exactly what happens in almonds, chestnuts or any other tree nut when they are activated. So, given this lack of evidence, it is difficult to conclude whether any changes that do occur would make a nutritional difference to the person eating them.

    Last update October 2016

    Are pecans paleo?

    Yes, pecans are paleo. In fact, all nuts are paleo. Lets take a look at what paleo means.

    The Palaeolithic diet (also called the Caveman diet) works on the principle that the human body should eat the same diet as our hunter gatherer ancestors. This includes meat, fish, birds, roots, wild fruits and vegetables, and nuts. It claims that the introduction of agriculture around 10,000 years ago works against human genetic makeup and leads to the development of obesity and chronic diseases. Foods therefore, that are the products of agriculture such as grains, legumes, all dairy products, oils, salt and sugar are all excluded.

    The theory behind the paleo movement is that our modern 'Western' diet is associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers. The paleo diet claims that by reverting to a paleo diet, for which they claim our bodies were designed, these modern diseases would cease to exist.

    Several studies have investigated the effects of eating a paleo diet on risk factors of chronic disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and waist circumference, with results suggesting greater short-term improvements (1,2,3). However, studies are relatively short term, so long-term benefits are yet to be determined.

    Should we go paleo then? When we way up the research for the paleo diet against the body of evdience for eating dairy products and legumes - clearly these foods are core to a healthy diet.

    All Australians should eat less sugar, refined carbohydrates, energy dense and nutrient poor foods as well as eat more fruits, vegetables and nuts. So we can agree on that.

    References:
    1) Manheimer EW et al. Paleolithic nutrition for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):922-32.
    2) Otten J et al. Benefits of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes.Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2016 May 27. [Epub ahead of print].
    3) Whalen KA. et al. Paleolithic and Mediterranean Diet Pattern Scores Are Inversely Associated with Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Balance in Adults.J Nutr.2016Jun;146(6):1217-26.

    Last Update December 2016

    What do you eat in a Mediterranean diet?

    The Mediterranean Diet emphasises plant-based eating and is rich in vegetables, fruit, peas and beans (legumes), grains and nuts. It contains moderate amounts of chicken and fish (a few times a week), and limits the amount of red meat to no more than a few times a month. Most of the fat is unsaturated and comes from olive oil and nuts. It also emphasises using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour foods. A small amount of red wine in moderation is optional.

    In combination with exercise, enjoying meals with family and friends and not smoking, the Mediterranean diet is scientifically proven to offer many health benefits.

    The PREDIMED study is a long-term study undertaken by 16 research groups in seven communities in Spain over 2003 - 2011 to examine the effects of the Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease.
    The Mediterranean diet:
    - reduced cardiovascular events (such as heart attack, stroke and death) (1)
    - reduced mortality (death)(2)
    - reduced the incidence of diabetes by 50% (3)
    - assisted with weight management (4)

    References:
    1) Estruch R et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Eng J Med. 2013 Apr.4;368(14):1279-90.
    2) Guasch-Ferre M et al. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Med. 2013;11:164.
    3) Salas-Salvado J et al. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet: results of the PREDIMED-REUS nutrition intervention randomised trial. Diabetes Care. 2011:34(1):14-19.
    4) Martinez-Gonzalez MA et al. Nut consumption, weight gain and obesity: Epidemiological evidence. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21(Suppl 1):S40-45.

    Last update November 2016

    I have a specific nut allergy. Where can I buy nuts that have not come in contact with other nuts?

    Recently we have been getting more inquiries from people with nut allergies. They are asking where they can get nuts they are not allergic to that have not come into contact with nuts they are allergic to. Apparently immunologists are suggesting that their patients eat nuts they are not allergic to, as it may help with their allergies. See the document linked below which lists a number of nut growers/suppliers that either only grow one type of nut or are able to guarantee no cross contact with other nuts.

    Single-origin-tree-nut-suppliers-list Jan 2017

    How many cups is a handful?

    A handful of nuts is equivalent to:
  • an expresso coffee cup
  • post-it note
  • shot glass
  • ⅓ cup
  • Healthy Handful expresso cupHealthy handful post it noteHealthy handful shot glassHealthy handful third cup

    Can eating nuts help me live longer?

    A new study published in the December 2016 issue of BMC Medicine, found a 20g handful of nuts everyday can cut the risk of developing coronary heart disease by almost 30 per cent, the risk of developing cancer by 15 per cent and the risk of premature death from all causes by 22 per cent. So yes, eating nuts every day can help you live longer.

    The research also found an average of at least 20g of nuts was associated with a reduced risk of premature death from respiratory diseases by about half, and diabetes by 40 per cent.

    About the research

    The research included all tree nuts as well as peanuts, and was led by the Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and published in the journal BMC Medicine.

    The researchers analysed 20 published studies from around the world, involving 819,000 participants, including more than 12,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 9,000 cases of stroke, 18,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and more than 85,000 deaths.

    Why 20g and not 30g of nuts?

    The research refers to at least 20g of nuts, which is less than the 30g handful the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Nuts for Life recommends as the daily serving size. This is because the study is a meta-analysis of 20 individual studies. The actual journal paper shows the researchers assessed a one ounce serving of nuts (which is 28g, and which we round up to 30g) and found at this serving size, 30g a day reduces heart disease by 29%, cancer by 15% and premature death by all causes by 22%.

    The researchers did another statistical analysis to determine the minimum amount of nuts to get the best effect and they found it was 20g. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat more than 20g - it just means that this research didn’t see much additional benefit in reducing premature death from a specific health cause with more than 20g a day.

    Putting this into context of the full body of evidence, which for instance shows that to reduce blood cholesterol we need 60g of nuts a day – eating at least a 30g serving size is appropriate. Especially when Australians on average are eating just 6g of nuts a day (ABS data).

    Published December 2016

    How much is 30grams of almonds?

    30g of almonds is equivalent to around 20 almonds. An easy way to ensure you are getting enough is to enjoy a handful of nuts (almonds, or whichever nuts you prefer), everyday.

    30g almonds

    Last update October 2016

    How many ounces (or grams) are in a handful?

    A handful of nuts is equivalent to just over an ounce of nuts, or around 30g. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 30g of nuts twice a week to twice a day depending on your age, gender, life stage and energy needs. 30g of nuts is equivalent to:

    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 (about two of each nut type, not including chestnuts)

    Research indicates that a daily handful of nuts (30g), as part of a heart healthy diet, can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease by ~30-50% (1-5). More recent research has found that incorporating 30-100g (1-3.5 ounces) of nuts a day can assist with diabetes control for those with diabetes; and can contribute to weight loss when incorporated into a cholesterol lowering diet. A meta-analysis has found that around two handfuls of nuts/day significantly reduces total and LDL cholesterol (6).

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Sabaté J et al. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170(9):821-7.

    Last update October 2016

    What nuts are good for lowering cholesterol?

    All nuts can lower cholesterol levels. In fact, the results of a recent review concluded that the major determinant of cholesterol lowering was nut dose rather than nut type (1).

    Results of recent studies suggest that around 60g of nuts/day lowers cholesterol:

  • A large analysis combining the results of 25 cholesterol lowering studies involving nuts found that around 67g or two handfuls, each day lowered total cholesterol by about 5%, LDL cholesterol by around 7% and triglycerides by about 10% (2).
  • A review of 61 controlled studies concluded that tree nut intake lowers total and LDL cholesterol, with stronger effects observed at intakes of greater than 60g of nuts/day (1).

    References:
    1) Del Gobbo LC et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1347-56.
    2) Sabate, et al. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170(9):821-7.

    Last update October 2016
  • What impact do nuts have on the gut microbiome?

    Our body is closely tied to the community of bacteria that lives in our intestine – the gut microbiome. For some time, we assumed gut bacteria is only needed to help keep the colon healthy but this exciting new area of study is uncovering how gut bacteria impacts inflammation and chronic disease such as obesity. So many foods impact on the amount and diversity of bacteria and interestingly for us nuts are one of those foods.

    What is the gut microbiome?

    A large US study, The Human Microbiome Project, has uncovered that more than 90% of the gut microbiome is made up of two types of bacteria - Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes bacteria, with the rest from Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria(1) but only a fraction have been cultured and their functions analysed. It’s estimated the gut is colonised by more than 100 trillion microorganisms.(1)

    Microbiome diversity increases from birth, peaking in early adulthood but declines with age(2). These different bacteria have a range of functions, including nutrient release and absorption, protection against pathogens, and changes to the immune system(3). Further research is needed though to determine how our age, gender, genetics, BMI, health status, diet, mode of delivery, geographic location, and medical treatments/antibiotics alter the type and amount of bacteria present in our intestines.(4-6)

    What impact do nuts have on the gut microbiome?

    This is a fascinating new area of research for nuts but it is still in its infancy. Nuts are foods (prebiotics) for the bacteria (probiotics) and nut skins in particular, appear to play an important role since they are rich in fibre and phytochemical compounds, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.(7)

    Both raw almonds and roasted almonds appear to increase the growth of gut bacteria.(8) Raw almonds have been found to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria and Eubacterium rectal bacteria leading to increased butyrate production (9) - a short chain fatty acid which is thought to keep colon cells healthy. A study involving 48 healthy adults, eating either 56g of roasted almonds or 10g of almond skins a day for six weeks, resulted in significant increases in Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria in faecal samples.(10) An almond and pistachio study also saw increased bacterial growth.(11).

    Different types of fibres have been identified in hazelnut skins and in time may also show prebiotic potential.(12)

    Chestnut extracts and chestnut flour appear to protect probiotics enabling them to survive stomach acids and bile making it to the large intestine intact(14). Attempts have been made to make a chestnut based “yoghurt”(15).

    It is early days yet but we know nuts are highly nutritious foods that do not lead to weight gain and this impact on the gut microbiome may be just another way they help control weight.

    Research has found those of us colonised with Faecalibacterium, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus bacteria have significantly less risk of developing obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.(16-18) These species are able to produce high levels of lactate, propionate and butyrate short chain fatty acids(17) which are thought to impact on inflammation. Inflammation is though to impact on insulin resistance which leads to weight gain.

    Interestingly animal and human studies have found the Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes ratio is decreased in those who are obese compared to healthy weight individuals.(17-20) Gut bacterial changes in obese mice increase intestinal permeability, resulting in intestinal and adipose (body fat) tissue inflammation which could also lead to weight gain.(21)

    There is so much left unanswered but this new area of study offers promising results. Until such time, healthy diets need to be high in fibre and include fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, fermented dairy, other fermented foods and of course nuts, to provide sources of pre-and probiotics to positively affect the gut microbiome.

    References:
    1) Human Microbiome Project, C .Structure, function and diversity of the healthy human microbiome. Nature 2012;486:207–214.
    2) Belizário JE, Napolitano M.. Human microbiomes and their roles in dysbiosis, common diseases, and novel therapeutic approaches. Front Microbiol. 2015;Oct 6;6:1050.
    3) Brown,C.T et al. Genome resolved analysis of a premature infant gut microbial community reveals a Varibaculum cambriense genome and a shift towards fermentation-based metabolism during the third week of life. Microbiome 2012;1:30.
    4) Arumugam, M et al. Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome. Nature 2011;473: 174–180.
    5) Koren,O et al. A guide to enterotypes across the human body: meta-analysis of microbial community structures in human microbiome datasets. PLoS Comput. Biol. 2013;9:e1002863.
    6) Clemente,J.C et al. The impact of the gut microbiota on human health: an integrative view. Cell 2012;148:1258–1270.
    7) Mandalari G, Faulks RM, Bisignano C, Waldron KW, Narbad A, Wickham MS. In vitro evaluation of the prebiotic properties of almond skins (Amygdalus communis L.). FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2010 Mar;304(2):116-22.
    8) Liu Z et al In vitro and in vivo evaluation of the prebiotic effect of raw and roasted almonds (Prunus amygdalus). J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Mar;96(5):1836-43.
    9) Mandalari G, Nueno-Palop C, Bisignano G, Wickham MS, Narbad A. Potential prebiotic properties of almond (Amygdalus communis L.) seeds. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jul;74(14):4264-70.
    10) Liu Z, Lin X, Huang G, Zhang W, Rao P, Ni L. Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe. 2014 Apr;26:1-6.
    11) Ukhanova M, Wang X, Baer DJ, Novotny JA, Fredborg M, Mai V. Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study.Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 28;111(12):2146-52.
    12) Montella R, Coïsson JD, Travaglia F, Locatelli M, Bordiga M, Meyrand M, Barile D, Arlorio M. Identification and characterisation of water and alkali soluble oligosaccharides from hazelnut skin (Corylus avellana L.). Food Chem. 2013 Oct 15;140(4):717-25.
    13) Arena A, Bisignano C, Stassi G, Filocamo A, Mandalari G. Almond Skin Inhibits HSV-2 Replication in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells by Modulating the Cytokine Network. Molecules. 2015 May 15;20(5):8816-22.
    14) Blaiotta G, La Gatta B, Di Capua M, Di Luccia A, Coppola R, Aponte M. Effect of chestnut extract and chestnut fiber on viability of potential probiotic Lactobacillus strains under gastrointestinal tract conditions. Food Microbiol. 2013 Dec;36(2):161-9.
    15) Blaiotta G1, Di Capua M, Coppola R, Aponte M. Production of fermented chestnut purees by lactic acid bacteria. Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Sep 3;158(3):195-202.
    16) Kootte,R.S et al. The therapeutic potential of manipulating gut microbiota in obesity and type2 diabetes mellitus. DiabetesObes.Metab. 2012;14:112–120.
    17) Ley,R.E et al. Microbial ecology: human gut microbes associated with obesity. Nature 2006; 444,1022–1023.
    18) Le Chatelier,E et al. Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. Nature 2013;500:541–546.
    19) Ley,R.E et al. Obesity alters gut microbial ecology. Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.U.S.A. 2005;102:11070–11075.
    20) Verdam,F.J et al. Human intestinal microbiota composition is associated with local and systemic inflammation in obesity. Obesity(SilverSpring) 2013;21:E607–E615.
    21) Cani,P.D et al. Selective increases of bifidobacteria in gut microflora improve high-fat-diet-induced diabetes in mice through a mechanism associated with endotoxaemia. Diabetologia 2007;50, 2374–2383.

    Published 15th April 2016

    This article is based on an article Lisa Yates wrote for Medical Observer - a GP magazine.

    What is the Health Star Rating System?

    snack-stars
    The Health Star Rating (HSR) System is a voluntary Australian Government front-of-pack labelling system that rates the overall nutritional profile of packaged food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars in ½ star increments. It provides a quick, easy, standard way to compare similar packaged foods. The more stars, the healthier the choice. The rating is based on the nutrient profile of the food per 100g or mL. The HSR logo also gives information about some of the nutrients in the food, such as the energy (kJ), saturated fat, sugars and sodium and may include a positive nutrient such as protein, fibre or a vitamin or mineral.

    This is an example of the HSR logo for natural mixed nuts scoring 5 stars:

    snack-stars

    Large food packaging may use the entire logo whereas smaller packs and those that use stickers need only use the star rating icon only.

    Visit www.healthstarrating.gov.au for more information. Last updated July 2016

    How many Health Stars do nuts score?

    Nuts are nutritious, healthy foods, and this is reflected in their Health Star Ratings. All unsalted nuts score between 4 and 5 stars (based on nutrient composition per 100g):
    Almond (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Brazil nut (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★
    Cashew (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Chestnut (roasted) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Hazelnut (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Macadamia (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Pecan (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Pine nut (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Pistachio (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Walnut (raw) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    Last updated July 2016

    Does roasting or salting affect the Health Star Rating?

    Nuts absorb very little of the oil they’re roasted in, and many nuts are dry roasted (see Roasting FAQs), so this has little effect on their star rating. Depending on how much salt is added to the nuts, the salt reduces the star rating by around half to one star.

    Last updated July 2016

    Why do some nuts score 4 Health Stars and others more?

    snack-stars
    Variations in protein, fibre and saturated fat content affect the number of stars. However, with a star rating of four stars or above, the best advice is to enjoy your favourites and aim to eat a handful of nuts a day to maximise health benefits.

    Last updated July 2016

    How do nuts compare as a snack with other easy-to-grab foods?

    The Health Star Rating system shows that grabbing a handful of nuts is one of the best snacks when you feel the munchies come on. Here are some comparisons:

    Star Check: Afternoon Snacks

    snack-stars
    30g of mixed nuts ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
    A red apple ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
    A choc chip biscuit
    A plain muesli bar ★ ★ ★ ☆
    Processed cheese ★ ★ ★
    Rice crackers ★ ★ ★ ☆
    A choc chip muffin ★ ★
    Small take-away cappuccino ★ ★
    An average energy drink
    NB: all Health Stars based on nutrient composition per 100g

    Last update July 2016  

    Are nuts expensive?

    What is the cost of good health? Nuts are no more expensive than other snack foods. They can sometimes appear to be more expensive, because we often buy them in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, as a price per kilo. Whereas groceries in other aisles are priced per pack.

    What if all products were sold as a price per kilogram?

    Nuts in fresh produce - $9-15/kg

    Nuts in cooking/snack aisles - $25-40/kg depending on seasonal availability

    Chocolate coated biscuits - $13/kg

    Muesli Bars - $13-23/kg

    Potato crisps - $10-35/kg

    Snack biscuits and cream cheese - $19-36/kg

    Kids sweet biscuits e.g. Teddies - $16-20/kg

    So, nuts are competitively priced compared to other snack foods, and they provide a bigger bang for your buck when it comes to NUTrition. Just remember that value for money is not always value for health.

    We should also be aware of the true costs to produce food. It can take 5-10 years for nut trees to grow enough to bear a commercial crop of nuts. This means that nut growers have to invest in their trees for many years before they can make a profit. And what if the climate and weather don't work in your favour? Droughts, floods, frosts, fungal growths can all impact on the quality of the crop that is grown and will impact the following season too. Cheaper produce does not reflect the true costs of producing food nor the returns to nut growers. Nut growers need to earn a living too.

    Prices based on average of two online supermarket stores July 2016

    Last updated July 2016

    Nuts contain phytates – what are they?

    Phytates are the salts of phytic acid or inositol hexaphosphate. This is a storage compound which binds minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and phosphate, and is found in plant seeds. During germination, phytates are broken down by phytase enzymes, released when in water. The minerals released are used by the plant for the developing shoot and root.

    "Activating" grains, nuts and seeds by soaking them for 10—12 hours to start the germination process and reduce the impact of phytates on the absorption of these minerals is a recent trend. Phytates have this reputation as an anti-nutrient for humans but the reality is quite different.

    For some people, such as those in developing countries that rely on only a few staple foods, it's possible higher levels of phytates in their diets can impact on mineral absorption resulting in deficiencies. However, for those eating a diet with a wide variety of foods, these mineral deficiencies are rare, even for vegetarians.

    Phytates can be considered a nutrient in their own right as they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, may have anti-cancerous effects, may affect carbohydrate metabolism and glucose control, improve bone mineral loss and possibly prevent calcification and kidney stones.

    To demonise phytates based on their negative impact on mineral bioavailability alone means ignoring the evidence for their health benefits. Australians following well-balanced diets do not need to ‘activate’ their nuts, grains and seeds to reduce phytates. In fact, phytates may provide the very protection we need to avoid certain health conditions such as bowel cancer.

    References:
    1) Schlemmer U et al. Phytate in foods and significance for humans: Food sources, intake, processing, bioavailability, protective role and analysis. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2009, 53, S330 –S375.

    This has been adapted from Lisa Yates' phytate article in Medical Observer https://www.medicalobserver.com.au/news/is-activating-a-vital-step

    Last updated July 2016

    Does processing nuts (grinding, flaking etc) affect the nutrients?

    There are many ways nuts are processed so here are a few methods and some thoughts on the affects of processing on NUTrition:

    Soaking nuts

    It is thought nuts need to be soaked overnight to reduce the level of phytate - a natural phytochemical that can bind to minerals such as iron and zinc. There is no evidence however, that soaking nuts releases more nutrients. There is some evidence that soaking grains and legumes reduces phytates but not all studies show a subsequent rise in nutrient availability. What's also interesting is that phytates themselves are considered a nutrient with antioxidant capabilities, so we don't necessarily want to reduce the level of it in our diets. For most Australians eating a wide variety of foods, micronutrient deficiencies are rare, so soaking nuts is unnecessary. However if you like the taste and texture of soaked nuts, then go for it as it is far better to be eating a handful of nuts a day, anyway you like them. For more information and references see our other FAQ on Activated Nuts in the General FAQ category.

    Whole nuts vs. nut butters/pastes

    Research shows that more fat is absorbed from nut butters/pastes than whole nuts. It's likely the fat is trapped in the fibrous structure of the nuts and is excreted from the body. Although the more you chew nuts, the more fat is released(1-3). This is not to say you should avoid eating nut butters/pastes - a large study found eating 1 tablespoon of nut butters a day reduced the risk of developing diabetes, similarly to whole nuts(4). Smooth nut butters are also in the perfect form for infants when introducing solids from around 6 months of age(5).

    Nut milks

    It's trendy right now to avoid animal milks and drink milk substitute beverages such as those from grains (oat milk, rice milk), legumes (soy milk) and nuts (almond milk, macadamia milk). It's important to keep in mind that the actual level of nuts in these milks is small - only 2-10%, and much of the nutrients in nuts are left behind in the fibrous "pulp". If you make nut milks at home be sure to use the "pulp" as an ingredient in cooking - don't discard it. If you are buying commercial milk substitutes make sure they are fortified with calcium - about 120mg per 100mL. Nut milks are general low in fat (less than 3g total fat per 100mL) whereas whole nuts are rich in the healthy fats - 49-74% fat. If you enjoy nut milks continue to use them, but just know they are not a substitute for a handful of nuts a day.

    Ground nuts or nut meals

    When nuts, such as almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts and macadamias, are ground or milled into a coarse flour, they still contain the nutrients of whole nuts, although the fibre content can be reduced if the nuts are blanched before milling. Because all nuts are gluten free, nut meals are a good alternative to grain based flours for those with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance.

    Blanched nuts

    Blanched nuts are temporarily soaked in hot water to soften the seed coats for removal. This reduces the fibre content, as the coat is a good source of fibre and is also thought to have a prebiotic effect i.e. as a source of food for probiotic bacteria in the large intestine(6). Blanched nuts are often used in cooking or for decoration but where you can, use and eat the whole nut - skin included.

    Roasting nuts

    One of the most common questions we get asked is, 'Does roasting affect the nutrients in nuts - especially the fat content'. Whether dry or oil roasted, the nutrient content varies only a little when compared to raw natural nuts. For instance, heating reduces the water content so the mineral content appears higher. B group vitamins are not heat stable so they will be reduced in roasted nuts. Also, oil roasted nuts tend to be salted so the sodium content will be higher than raw nuts. Think of these nuts as your party nuts for special occasions, and raw and dry roasted nuts for everyday use. Roasting can also cause the nut skins to fall off and since they are a good source of fibre and antioxidant compounds, consuming the skins is a good idea. When it comes to the fat content, oil roasted nuts are slightly higher in fat but only by 2-5%. This is because nuts are so dense and they are unable to absorb much more fat. Unlike a potato chip which is a lot more porous and able to absorb more fat when fried in oil. There's not a lot of research but what there is says there is little evidence that heating will cause major changes to the fatty acid profile.(7)

    Nut storage

    While not a processing method per se, storage length and location could have effects on the nutrients. Like any food, the longer nuts are stored in higher temperatures and humidity, the more likely the fats in nuts will turn rancid. For this reason, we recommend that nuts are stored in air tight containers or resealable bags to reduce oxygen levels and keep moisture out. Nuts are best stored in the fridge or freezer. Bring nuts back to room temperature or warm slightly in the microwave before eating to bring back the volatile oils that give nuts their nutty taste.

    References:
    1)Cassady BA et al Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response.Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar;89(3):794-800.
    2)Hollis J et al. Effect of chronic consumption of almonds on body weight in healthy humans.Br J Nutr. 2007 Sep;98(3):651-6.
    3)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.
    4)Jiang R et al Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. JAMA. 2002 Nov 27;288(20):2554-60.
    5)National Health and Medical Research Council (2012) Infant Feeding Guidelines.Canberra:National Health and Medical Research Council.
    6) Liu Z et al Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans.Anaerobe. 2014 Apr;26:1-6.
    7) Alasalvar C et al Effects of roasting on oil and fatty acid composition of Turkish hazelnut varieties (Corylus avellana L.).Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Sep;61(6):630-42.

    Last updated July 2016

    What is the healthy handful logo?

    The Healthy Handful logo is a visual reminder that we should all eat at least a handful (30g) of nuts each day. The 2011 Australia's Health Survey found Aussies are eating just 6g of nuts a day on average - well short of the 30g serving size recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines. This logo was developed by Nuts for Life and is available for use by anyone wishing to help share the message. Australian Tree Nut Industry members are starting to use it on packs, as well as fact sheets, advertisements, websites and stationery. Visit https://www.nutsforlife.com.au/media/healthy-handful/ for more information.

    Nuts for life_final logo_RGB

    Last updated July 2016

    I’m an athlete – Are nuts good for me?

    Professional athletes and weekend warriors alike need certain nutrients to fuel their sport, particularly protein and carbohydrates. While there is no specific research on the benefits of nuts directly for athletes, we certainly know that nuts are necessary for heart health and weight control(1,2). There is also a raft of evidence for the important role of proteins before and after training for muscle development and repair(3). And we also know that if athletes eat adequate carbohydrates, proteins can then be used for their primary role of growth, development and repair rather than siphoned off and converted to carbohydrate as the preferred fuel source(4).

    Nuts in general contain 3-20g of protein per 100g. Those nut varieties with more than 10g protein per 100g include: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

    Carbohydrates provide the body with energy and athletes need a combination of high and low glycemic index (GI) carbs. High GI carbs are digested quickly and perfect for that last minute top up prior to the start of sport or competition. Whereas low GI carbs are a longer lasting energy source and should be consumed in the meals prior to sport or competition(5).

    Only cashews and chestnuts can be considered higher sources of carbohydrate with 17g/100g and 34g/100g, respectively. As a result, both have been glycemic index tested and both have a low GI rating (cashews 25, chestnut meal 54*). This means their carbohydrates are more slowly digested providing a sustained energy source.

    The other nut varieties contain small amounts of carbohydrate - 2-8g/100g primarily as the natural sugar, sucrose.

    Nuts are also rich in fibre and healthy fats which take longer to digest. As a result, research has found mixing nuts in meals that contain carbohydrate will slow the digestion of the meal, resulting in a lower GI meal(6).

    Nuts also contain antioxidants. As athletes can have higher levels of oxidative stress, eating antioxidant rich plant foods are important to help reduce this stress(7-9).

    So nuts can be a highly nutritious foods for athletes of any level not only to help with performance, but also to maintain health. Enjoy a handful each day as a snack or added to meals for taste and texture.

    (*Only chestnut meal has been GI tested and since GI is dependent on the size of the food particles being digested, it is highly likely that whole chestnuts will have a GI lower than 54).

    References:
    1) Flores-Mateo G, Rojas-Rueda D, Basora J, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;97(6):1346-55.
    2) Sabaté J, Oda K, Ros E. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med. 2010 May 10;170(9):821-7.
    3) Phillips SM et al Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation.J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S29-38.
    4) Burke LM et al Carbohydrates for training and competition.J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S17-27.
    5) O'Reilly J. Glycaemic index, glycaemic load and exercise performance.Sports Med. 2010 Jan 1;40(1):27-39.
    6) Kendall CW et al. The glycemic effect of nut-enriched meals in healthy and diabetic subjects.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21 Suppl 1:S34-9.
    7) Gulati S et al. Effects of pistachio nuts on body composition, metabolic, inflammatory and oxidative stress parameters in Asian Indians with metabolic syndrome: a 24-wk, randomized control trial.Nutrition. 2014 Feb;30(2):192-7.
    8) Colpo E et al. Brazilian nut consumption by healthy volunteers improves inflammatory parameters.Nutrition. 2014 Apr;30(4):459-65.
    9) Berryman CE et al Acute consumption of walnuts and walnut components differentially affect postprandial lipemia, endothelial function, oxidative stress, and cholesterol efflux in humans with mild hypercholesterolemia. J Nutr. 2013 Jun;143(6):788-94.

    Last updated July 2016

    What quantity of nuts are Australians eating?

    According to the 2011 Australia's Health Survey results - Australians are eating about 6g of nuts a day - well short of the NHMRC recommended 30g serve size. It also explains why the NHMRC's core dietary modelling report, that underpins the Australian Dietary Guidelines, suggests Australian adults would need to increase their nut consumption by 350%.

    When reading about nuts in the media and on the web, recommendations are often overshadowed with a warning statement - a misplaced concern over the fat content of nuts such as "Nuts are a healthy snack food which can reduce your risk of heart disease - but watch how many you eat as they are rich in fat and calories, so stick to a small handful."

    If Australians aren't currently eating enough nuts to even reach the minimum serving size of 30g, why are we warning people about eating too many of them?

    The low fat diet message of the 80s and 90s for weight loss is now out-dated. Science has moved on and healthy fats play a valuable role in weight management. Research shows those eating nuts weigh less and are less likely to gain weight. There are many ways nuts help with weight management including: - protein, fibre and fat content of nuts - activating different parts of the body's appetite control mechanisms, - not all the fat in nuts is absorbed - up to 15% is excreted from the body thought to be trapped in the fibrous structure and/or nut oil bodies being resistant to digestive enzymes, - nuts have a low glycemic index effect when mixed with carbohydrates which slows the digestion of carbohydrates, maintaining blood glucose levels and helping to control appetite, - nuts may impact insulin sensitivity - high insulin levels may prevent breakdown of body fat stores, - nut eaters tend to enjoy their diets more, achieving greater success.

    Nuts are whole plant foods and consumption should be encouraged. There's no reason to fear eating nuts, so grab a handful of nuts every day as a snack or add to meals for taste and texture.

    References:
    See: Nuts & The Big Fat Myth https://www.nutsforlife.com.au/resources/literature-reviews-summaries/

    Last updated July 2016

    Do nuts cause gallstones or kidney stones?

    There have been two population based studies investigating the relation of frequent nut consumption and the risk of gallstones (1,2).

    Men consuming five or more 30g serves of nuts per week had a significantly lower risk of gallstone disease (30% risk reduction) than men who never ate or who ate less than one serve per month(1).

    Data from the Nurses' Health Study (2) showed that for women, frequent nut consumers (≥5 times/wk) had a 25% reduced risk of needing cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder) than women who never ate nuts or who ate less than one serve a month.

    These outcomes remained true despite the type or content of fat in the diet(1,2). Thus, it appears that the frequency of nut consumption is equally protective of gallstone disease in both sexes.

    There is less evidence for the role of nuts in reducing the risk of kidney stones. Consumption of a DASH style diet - which is rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and wholegrains; moderate in low fat dairy products; and low in sweetened beverages, salt and processed meat is associated with a 40% reduced risk of kidney stones(3).

    References:
    1)Tsai CJ et al. A prospective cohort study of nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease in men. Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Nov 15;160(10):961-8.
    2) Tsai CJ et al. Frequent nut consumption and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):76-81.
    3) Taylor EN et al. DASH-style diet associates with reduced risk for kidney stones.J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Oct;20(10):2253-9.

    Last updated July 2016

    I’m vegetarian – Are nuts a source of iron?

    Vegetarians avoiding animal products need to seek alternative plant sources of iron. Nuts in general contain around 1-5mg iron per 100g, depending on the nut variety, with cashews containing the most iron (5mg/100g) and chestnuts the least (0.8mg/100g). However this non-haem, plant iron is difficult to absorb as it is bound by the antioxidant phytate. One way to help the absorption of plant iron is by eating these foods with a source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) such as citrus fruits, tomato, capsicum or avocado. Vitamin C helps to break down phytate, making the iron more bioavailable. Soaking nuts may also reduce the phytate, although there is no evidence that more iron is made available.

    Last updated July 2016

    Do nuts cause gout?

    Whilst there is not a lot of evidence, a recent study among the Chinese population, demonstrated that higher consumption of poultry and fish/shellfish is associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas eggs, nuts, seeds and grain products was not (1). Similarly, two other studies have shown that eating nuts as well as low-fat dairy products, purine-rich vegetables, grains and legumes and less sugary fruits reduces the risk of developing gout. Red meat, fructose-containing beverages and alcohol was shown to increase the risk of gout (2,3).

    References:
    1) Teng GG et al. Food sources of protein and risk of incident gout in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 Jul;67(7):1933-42.
    2) Torralba KD et al. The interplay between diet, urate transporters and the risk for gout and hyperuricemia: current and future directions.Int J Rheum Dis. 2012 Dec;15(6):499-506.
    3) Choi HK. A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout.Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010 Mar;22(2):165-72.

    Last updated July 2016

    Do nuts contain sugar?

    Yes raw, natural nuts contain natural sugars and depending on the nut variety, contain between 2.1 and 5.9g sugars per 100g. Pistachios contain the most sugar (5.9g/100g) and Brazil nuts the least (2.1g/100g). The type of sugar found naturally in nuts is sucrose - the same type that is in sugar cane and crystallised as white, brown or raw sugar. There's so much hype about sugars at present but there's no need to be concerned about the natural sugar content of nuts. If we avoided all foods that contain sugars, there'd be little left to eat as many plant foods contain some level of natural sugars.

    Despite their natural sugar content, nuts help to reduce the glycemic index of a meal, reducing the rise in blood glucose following a meal containing carbohydrate foods(1-4). The protein, healthy fats and fibre content of nuts helps to slow their digestion.

    Some nuts are coated in sugar (Vienna almonds), honey (honey coated) or chocolate coated. These products will be higher in added sugars and are best left as party nuts on special occasions.

    References:
    1) Kendall CW et al The glycemic effect of nut-enriched meals in healthy and diabetic subjects.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21 Suppl 1:S34-9.
    2) Parham M et al. Effects of pistachio nut supplementation on blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial. Rev Diabet Stud. 2014 Summer;11(2):190-6.
    3) Blanco Mejia S et al. Effect of tree nuts on metabolic syndrome criteria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.BMJ Open. 2014 Jul 29;4(7):e004660.
    4) Kendall CW et al. The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jun;65(6):696-702.

    Last updated July 2016

    Do nuts cause acne?

    There is no evidence to suggest that nuts cause acne. There is some evidence to suggest that diets based on products with a high glycemic index (GI) leads to hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin levels) (1,2). Elevated insulin levels stimulate the secretion of androgens and cause an increased production of sebum, which plays a fundamental role in the cause of acne. Nuts can help to reduce the GI of a meal containing carbohydrates due to their healthy fat content. The healthy fats take longer to digest, and slow the rise in blood glucose.

    References:
    1) Kucharska A et al. Significance of diet in treated and untreated acne vulgaris. Adv Dermatol Allergol 2016; XXXIII (2): 81–86.
    2) Smith RN et al. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 ul;86(1):107-15.

    Last Update July 2016

    Brazil nuts are very high in selenium – Isn’t selenium toxic? Are Brazil nut healthy?

    Brazil nuts are one of the highest natural sources of selenium. A 100g serve of Brazil nuts contains 1917 micrograms of selenium, equivalent to 575 micrograms per 30g serve (1). However, this can vary quite significantly within the range of 0.4 - 158 micrograms per gram of Brazil nut (2).

    Selenium is also found in seafood, poultry and eggs and to a lesser extent, other muscle meats. The contribution of plant sources (e.g. sunflower seeds and wheat germ) depends on the location, as selenium levels in soil vary. Low soil selenium levels in New Zealand mean that dietary intakes and selenium status are lower than in many other countries (3).

    In Australia, the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for selenium is 70 micrograms for adult men, and 60 micrograms for adult women (4). This means you only need 2 Brazil nuts a day to get 100% of the RDI for selenium. However this assumes we absorb 100% of the nutrients from the foods we eat, which is not the case - we only absorb about 55-70% of selenium from foods (5).

    An upper level of intake (UL) has also been set at 400 micrograms of selenium a day and relates to intakes from food and supplements (4). This is based on studies from China and the US indicating that intakes of 800 micrograms does not cause adverse effects. Studies in native populations of the Brazilian Amazon region have found blood selenium levels ranging from 103 to 1500 micrograms/litre with no signs or symptoms of selenium toxicity (6). However, because of gaps in the body of evidence, a safety factor is applied – resulting in an upper limit of 400 micrograms (equivalent to 20g or approx 6 Brazil nuts).

    There is limited data about selenium toxicity in humans but the most common outcomes are brittleness and loss of hair and nail, as well as gastrointestinal disturbance, skin rash, fatigue, irritability and nervous system abnormalities.

    So, enjoying a few Brazil nuts/day is safe and is unlikely to cause any significant adverse effects – just don’t eat excessive amounts all at once.

    References:
    1) FSANZ NUTTAB 2010 online database https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/nutrientables/nuttab/Pages/default.aspx.
    2) Lemire M et al. Elevated levels of selenium in the typical diet of Amazonian riverside populations. Sci Total Environ. 2010 Sep 1;408(19):4076-84.
    3) Thomson CD et al. Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):379-84.
    4) https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/selenium.
    5) Whanger PD. Metabolism of selenium in humans. J Trace Elem Exper Med 1998;11:227-40.
    6) Lemire M et al No evidence of selenosis from a selenium-rich diet in the Brazilian Amazon. Environ Int. 2012 Apr;40:128-36.

    Last Update July 2016

    Should pregnant and lactating women eat nuts?

    Some women have been advised to avoid eating nuts during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding to reduce the risk of their baby developing allergies - there is no evidence to suggest this is the case. In fact, it is now thought that this may have the opposite effect.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), and the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines all state there is no evidence to show that what a woman eats while pregnant or breastfeeding affects the chance of the child developing an allergy, or allergy symptoms (1,2,3).

    Of course if you have a nut allergy, then you need to avoid those nuts you are allergic to.

    References:
    1) Greer FR et al. Effects of early nutritional interventions on the development of atopic disease in infants and children: The role of maternal dietary restriction, breastfeeding, timing of introduction of complementary foods and hydrolyzed formulas. Pediatrics. Jan 1, 2008;121(1):183-191.
    2) The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). Allergy Prevention in children https://www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/papers/allergy-prevention-in-children.
    3) National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. www.eatforhealth.gov.au.

    Last Update October 2016

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

    If your child is not allowed to take nuts to school or attends a 'Nut Free' day care or primary school, it’s probably because there is a child at the school who is allergic to nuts. For information on nuts see the section on Nuts and Allergy or our fact sheet

    For children not allergic to nuts, sprinkle a handful of nuts over breakfast cereal, or blended into fruit smoothies; provide a handful with afternoon tea, or combined in muffins or biscuit recipes; add them to dinner and don't forget to include them on weekends for meals and snacks. They're also great before or after sport/dance. Check out our recipe section for some great ideas

    Last Update July 2016

    When should nuts be introduced to infants/children’s diet?

    Previously, it was recommended delaying the introduction of nuts until around 12 months of age to reduce the risk of allergies. However, there is little evidence to suggest that this can prevent allergies, and in fact may actually have the opposite effect (1,2). Studies are ongoing in this area, but it would appear that there is a critical period of time whereby immune system development is optimised and is primed to accept protein foods. It is suggested that this critical window is around 4-6 months of age (3).

    The NHMRC and ASCIA infant feeding guidelines (4,5) recommend introducing foods according to what the family usually eats - regardless of whether the food is considered to be a common food allergen, at around 4-6 months of age. Nut butters, pastes and flours can be introduced at this time, just like other foods. Hold off on whole nuts or nut pieces until around 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.

    References:
    1) Koplin JJ. et al. Can early introduction of egg prevent egg allergy in infants? A population-based study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010; 126(4):p807-13.
    2) Du Toit G. et al. Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008; 122(5):p984-91.
    3) Prescott SL et al. The importance of early complementary feeding in the development of oral tolerance: concerns and controversies. Pediatr Allergy Immunol.2008; 19(5):p375-80.
    4) NHMRC Eat for Health: Infant Feeding Guidelines Summary 2013.
    5) ASCIA Guidelines: Infant feeding and allergy prevention. ASCIA 2016. https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergy-prevention/scia-guidelines-for-infant-feeding-and-allergy-prevention.

    Last Update July 2016

    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 hazelnut pralines or nuts coated in 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/ muesli/ nut 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 often 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 which may cause a reaction in highly sensitive people.

    Last Update July 2016

    Where can I buy guaranteed nut-free products?

    Several products are manufactured without nuts as ingredients and in facilities where nuts are not 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.

    For those who can eat certain nut types while needing to avoid others, it is worth buying permitted nuts in their shell (where possible), or making contact with growers directly to avoid cross contamination.

    Dietitians associated with allergy clinics may be able to recommend specialist nut-free products, and it is advisable to join an allergy support network such as Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia to seek recommendations from other members. Dietitians specialising in food allergy can be found through the Dietitians Association of Australia, www.daa.asn.au or Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, www.allergyorg.au.

    Last Update July 2016

    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 nine 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 containing 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”.

    Last Update July 2016

    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. Avoid going to alternative practitioners for allergy advice.

    Last Update July 2016

    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, seek medical attention immediately. A secondary reaction may occur hours after the initial reaction. Additional doses of adrenalin can be given if required.

    Last Update July 2016

    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.

    Last Update July 2016

    If I have a nut allergy can I still eat out at restaurants and 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 try to avoid restaurants that are likely to use nuts in several dishes, for example, Thai and Indian 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.

    Contact the restaurant you plan to visit in advance to advise them that you have a food allergy. Talk to the manager about dishes to be avoided and ask them to advise the chef so they can take extra care in preparing your meal to avoid cross contamination. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia have developed chef cards that can be given to the manager or chef to inform them of your allergy https://www.allergyfacts.org.au/images/Chefcardtemplate.pdf.

    As a final check for adults and teenagers, cautiously touch test a small amount of food on your outer lip – if warnings such as burning, tingling or swelling occur, then the food is likely to contain the food allergen.

    Last Update July 2016

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

    No. 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 the nut(s) in question is advised.

    Last Update July 2016

    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.

    For individuals with a tree nut and/or peanut allergy under the care of an allergy specialist, advice may vary as to whether you need to avoid all nuts or only specific nuts. This decision can be a complex clinical one based on the age of the patient, history of past reactions, co-existing medical conditions and results of oral food challenges.

    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.

    Last Update October 2016

    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 whole or 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 for up to 4 months and frozen for up to 6 months. Remember to bring nuts back to room temperature before eating so they taste...well....nuttier!

    Last Update July 2016

    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. For more information see our FAQ on Activated Almonds.

    Last Update July 2016

    Are organic nuts better than conventionally grown nuts?

    Despite claims that organic foods have more nutrients and elicit favourable effects on health, there is actually a lack of scientific evidence to support it. Research published in 2011(1) found that organic foods may contain more vitamin C and phosphorous, however another in 2012(2) showed that organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticides, but there was a lack of evidence that organic foods were significantly more nutritious.

    A handful of any type of nut - organic or conventional has benefits for health. So until the evidence is clear, include a daily handful of whichever type of nuts you prefer, as eating any type is better than eating none at all.

    References:
    1) Hunter D et al. Evaluation of the micronutrient composition of plant foods produced by organic or conventional agricultural methods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutri 2011;51(6):571-82.
    2) Smith-Spangler C et al. Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives? A systematic review. Ann Intern Med 2012;157(5): 348-66.

    Last Update July 2016

    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.


    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 and the Riverland (SA), Sunraysia (VIC) and the Riverina (NSW). Some are also imported from California USA.


    Brazil nut

    Brazil nuts can only grow in South America, 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

    Around 70 - 80% of Australian production is located in the North East of Victoria. In the South of the Divide Region of Victoria, chestnuts are grown in the High Country of the Gippsland and the Macedon Ranges. Producers are also located in NSW (around Orange, Canberra, and the Northern Tablelands), Southern Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.


    Hazelnut

    Hazelnuts are not native to Australia, and commercial varieties in Australia are cultivars of the European hazelnut. Hazelnuts in Australia are largely imported from Turkey, the USA and Spain. Hazelnuts are grown in South-Eastern Australia, where climatic conditions are temperate. The main production regions are the Central Tablelands of New South Wales near Orange, and north-east Victoria near Myrtleford. They are also grown in central and Eastern Victoria and increasingly in 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. Around half of the Australian crop is produced in the NSW 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. Orchards can also be found in Queensland at Munduberra, Gympie, Bundaberg, the Atherton tablelands and Beaudesert and small plantings in South Australia and Western Australia.


    Pine nut

    Most pine nuts in Australia are imported from Asia and the Mediterranean but there is a small orchard in Victoria.


    Pistachio

    The pistachio originated in western Asia and Asia Minor, made its way into Mediterranean Europe and now thrives in the dry climates of suitable areas of inland Australia. A small Australian industry is producing pistachios along the Murray River Valley between Swan Hill in Victoria and Waikerie in South Australia. Further plantings are located in central west Victoria and Pinnaroo, South Australia, with small plantings in Western Australia.


    Walnut

    A native of the northern hemisphere. Major supplies to Australia come from California, USA and China. However, there are 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.

    Last Update July 2016

    Do peanuts count as nuts?

    While “nut” is in their name, peanuts are in fact legumes. Peanuts actually grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. that grow on trees (and are referred to as "tree nuts"). 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 didn’t distinguish between tree nuts and peanuts, so it appears peanuts and tree nuts all have positive health benefits (1-6).

    Nuts for Life is a nutrition and health education initiative established for the Australian Tree Nut industry to provide information about the nutrition and health benefits of tree nuts.

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Jiang R et al. Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;288(20):2554-60.

    Last Update July 2016

    How many nuts should I eat in a day?

    The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 30g of nuts twice a week to twice a day depending on your age, gender, life stage and energy needs.

    30g of nuts is equivalent to:

    • 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 (about two of each nut type, not including chestnuts)

    Research indicates that a daily handful of nuts (30g), as part of a heart healthy diet, can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease by ~30-50% (1-5). More recent research has found that incorporating 30-100g of nuts a day can assist with diabetes control for those with diabetes; and can contribute to weight loss when incorporated into a cholesterol lowering diet. A meta-analysis has found that around two handfuls of nuts/day significantly reduces total and LDL cholesterol (6).

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Sabaté J et al. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170(9):821-7.

    Last Update August 2016

    Is one nut better than all the rest?

    Nuts represent a core food in the diet of Australians. Whilst the exact amounts of nutrients varies slightly between tree nuts, they are key sources of at least 28 different essential nutrients and bioactive substances. These include healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, fibre, folate, vitamin E, phytosterols and arginine.

    So, just as we need a variety of fruits and vegetables, we need to eat a variety of nuts as well. 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.

    Last Update August 2016

    What are activated almonds and are they better for you?

    Nuts are plant seeds, and soaking them for long enough can start the germination process which causes changes in the seed. Activated almonds have been soaked in water for around 12-24 hours to begin the germination process, and then most often slowly dried again to maintain their crispness.

    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 them. 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], with a consequent increase in the amount of easily aborbable minerals [15,16,17]. However, some studies have failed to show a reduction in phytate [18] or an increase in minerals [19]. Studies have also shown that the type of seed and the length of time it’s allowed to germinate has a big impact on how much phytate is reduced [10,21].

    Unfortunately, there appears to be no published literature of exactly what happens in almonds or other tree nuts, and no data on how long you need to soak almonds (or other nuts) to get any phytate reduction.

    So, given this lack of evidence, it is difficult to conclude whether any changes that do occur would make a nutritional difference to the person eating them. What's also important is that phytate is also a known antioxidant, and may be important in protecting against cancer and other inflammatory diseases [22].

    What we do know is that 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 the body to access some of the minerals present - something that’s not particularly relevant to a person eating a mixed diet in Australia. However, in countries where a limited number of foods may be eaten, for example where the diet is based largely on staples such as 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.

    So, whether activated or not, almonds and other nuts are nutritious snack and ingredient 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.

    Last Update September 2016

    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. Nuts are a valuable source of fibre in a high-fibre diet for diverticular disease.

    References:
    1) Weisberger L, Jamieson B. Clinical inquiries: How can you help prevent a recurrence of diverticulitis? J Fam Pract 2009;58(7):381-2.
    2) Strate LL et al. Nut, Corn, and Popcorn Consumption and the Incidence of Diverticular Disease. JAMA 2008;300(8):907-914.

    Last Update September 2016

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

    Raw and roasted nuts are gluten free, and can be enjoyed by those with Coeliac disease, provided they don’t have any other flavourings added. Always check the ingredients list for any gluten containing additives such as thickeners or maltodextrins. In fact many gluten-free recipes make use of ground nuts instead of grain flours. Nut meals that include nut skins can provide extra fibre. Check out our gluten-free recipes - they are marked 'GF' in the title.

    Last Update September 2016

    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, particularly fibre.

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

    Last update September 2016

    Are nuts good for blood glucose (blood sugar) levels?

    The GI-lowering effect of nuts (see 'Do nuts have a GI') means that nuts slow the rise of blood glucose after a carbohydrate-containing meal (1-3). High blood glucose after eating is common in people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, and can contribute to diabetes related complications (4).

    While most nuts don't have their own GI ranking, as they don't contain enough carbohydrate to be tested - cashews and chestnuts do and they are low GI.

    References:
    1) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr. 2006;136(12):2987-92.
    2) Parham M et al. Effects of pistachio nut supplementation on blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover trial. Rev Diabet Stud. 2014 Summer;11(2):190-6.
    3) Kendall CW et al. The glydemic effect of nut-enriched meals in healthy and diabetic subjects. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21 Suppl 1:S34-9.
    4) Aryangat AV et al. Type 2 diabetes: postprandial hyperglycemia and increased cardiovascular risk. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2010;24;6:145-5.

    Last Update September 2016

    Do nuts have a Glycemic Index (GI)?

    The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. For foods to be measured for their GI, they need to contain a certain amount of carbohydrate. With the exception of chestnuts and cashews, nuts don't contain much carbohydrate and so do not have a GI. Chestnuts have a GI of 54 (low), and cashews have a GI of 25 (low).

    However, nuts have a GI-lowering effect – they reduce the overall GI of a meal. That is, when nuts are mixed with foods rich in carbohydrates, they slow the digestion of the meal resulting in a slower rise in blood glucose (1-3). A low-GI diet has been shown to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and help in its management (4).

    References:
    1) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006;136(12):2987-92.
    2) Josse AR et al. Almonds and postprandial glycemia—a dose-response study. Metabolism 2007;56(3):400-4.
    3) Kendall C et al. Effect of pistachios on postprandial glucose and insulin levels and gut satiety hormone responses. FASEB J 2009; 23(1-Meeting Abstracts):563.2.
    4) Thomas D et al. Low glycaemic index, or low glycaemic load, diets for diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009(1):CD006296.

    Last update September 2016

    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. Nuts have a GI lowering effect, meaning that they can reduce the rise in blood glucose after a meal (1-3). Nuts also help to manage other health issues that often affect people with diabetes, for example, being overweight, heart disease and high blood pressure. Nuts are also a source of important nutrients - healthy fats, fibre, plant sterols, vitamins and minerals – and can help meet recommended daily intakes. Check out our Nuts and diabetes factsheet for the full story.

    References:
    1) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006;136(12):2987-92.
    2) Josse AR et al. Almonds and postprandial glycemia—a dose-response study. Metabolism 2007;56(3):400-4.
    3) Kendall C et al. Effect of pistachios on postprandial glucose and insulin levels and gut satiety hormone responses. FASEB J 2009; 23(1-Meeting Abstracts):563.2.

    Last update September 2016

    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 (raw or roasted) at least five times a week can reduce heart disease risk by 30-50%.

    There is also no apparent difference in the ability of roasted and raw nuts to lower cholesterol. An almond study found that, as part of a healthy diet, both raw and roasted almonds reduced LDL cholesterol with no change in HDL (6).

    Only those nutrients that are not heat stable such as the B group vitamins will be reduced in roasted nuts. However, Australians get most of their B group vitamins from grains and cereals.

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Spiller GA et al. Effects of plant-based diets high in raw or roasted almonds, or roasted almond butter on serum lipoproteins in humans. J Am Coll Nutr 2003;22(3):195-200.

    Last Update September 2016

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

    There is evidence to suggest that as long as nuts are roasted at low/middles temperatures (120-160 degrees C), there is no effect on the fatty acid profile(1). However, there is also some evidence that a negligible amount of trans fats are produced after roasting, but this 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% (2-4).

    References:
    1) Schlormann W. et al. Influence of roasting conditions on health-related compounds in different nuts. Food Chem. 2015 Aug;1(180):77-85.
    2) Amaral JS et al. Effects of roasting on hazelnut lipids. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;22;54(4):1315-21.
    3) Alasalvar C et al. Effects of roasting on oil and fatty acid composition of Turkish hazelnut varieties (Corylus avellana L.). Int J Food Sci Nutr 2010;61(6):630-42.
    4) Yaacoub R et al. Formation of lipid oxidation and isomerization products during processing of nuts and sesame seeds. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Aug 27;56(16):7082-90.

    Last Update September 2016

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

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

    Vitamin E can also be reduced by roasting and the amount depends on the nut variety and the length of time being roasted. A light roasted colour is best for both sensory properties and nutrition.

    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 only by an average of around 5% (based on US nutrition compositional data). While natural (raw) nuts do not contain trans fats, 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% (1-3).

    References:
    1) Amaral JS et al. Effects of roasting on hazelnut lipids. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;22;54(4):1315-21.
    2) Alasalvar C et al. Effects of roasting on oil and fatty acid composition of Turkish hazelnut varieties (Corylus avellana L.). Int J Food Sci Nutr 2010;61(6):630-42.
    3) Yaacoub R et al. Formation of lipid oxidation and isomerization products during processing of nuts and sesame seeds. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Aug 27;56(16):7082-90.
    4) Stuetz W, Schlörmann W, Glei M. B-vitamins, carotenoids and α-/γ-tocopherol in raw and roasted nuts. Food Chem. 2017 Apr 15;221:222-227.
    5) Schlörmann W, Birringer M, Böhm V et al. Influence of roasting conditions on health-related compounds in different nuts.Food Chem. 2015 Aug 1;180:77-85.

    Last Update Jan 2017

    How are nuts roasted & in what type of oil?

    Roasting intensifies the flavour and the colour of the nut, which people often prefer. Nuts can be roasted both with and without oil.

    Roasting without oil: Dry-roasted or Oven-Roasted nuts

    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, either on the stove in a frying pan, tossing or stirring the nuts gently over the heat; or alternatively in a single layer in the oven on a baking tray, stirred from time to time.

    Roasting with oil: Oil-Roasted nuts

    There are two ways to roast nuts with oil - either Batch Oil roasting, or Continuous roasting. Batch oil roasting is where nuts are placed in a stainless steel basket and cooked in hot oil in a machine similar to a chip fryer. In the case of continuous roasting, the nuts travel through the roasters continuously via a mesh conveyor system.

    The Australian nut industry uses both methods using the same type of oil as the nut (for example macadamias are roasted in macadamia oil). However, sometimes other unsaturated oils are used 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 don't absorb much of the oil they are roasted in (only around 2-5% is absorbed).

    Last Update September 2016

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

    Polyunsaturated fats can be divided into two types: omega-6 fatty acids (Linoleic acid, LA) and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fats can be further divided into short chain omega-3s, from plants (Alpha-Linolenic acid, ALA) and long chain omega-3s, from seafood, Australian pasture-fed meat, eggs and other fortified foods (Eicosopentanoic acid, EPA and Docosahexanoic acid DHA).

    Some polyunsaturated fats are considered essential fatty acids, meaning they cannot be made in the body and therefore must be obtained from the diet. These are the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid (LA), and the short chain omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The longer chain omega-3s, EPA and DHA can be made in the body from ALA. However, the body is not efficient at doing this, and so it is recommended to obtain EPA and DHA from the diet.

    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, which is especially important during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in newborn babies (1).

    Long-chain omega-3s, such as those in seafood and fish oil, exert anti-inflammatory effects and it is recommended to increase their presence in the diet. Walnuts and to a lesser extent pecans, hazelnuts and macadamias, contain the plant omega-3s, ALA (2). ALA has an important heart health role. Just a 30g serve of walnuts can provide 100% of your daily ALA needs.

    References:
    1) Essentials of human nutrition 2007. Oxford University Press, 3rd Edition. Mann J and Truswell AS (Eds).
    2) Nuts for Life. Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.

    Last Update September 2016

    Do nuts contain cholesterol?

    Cholesterol is made in the liver of animals, so only animal products contain cholesterol. You won't find cholesterol in any plant food.

    However, nuts are an excellent source of polyunsatured and monounsaturated fats - the good fats - which, as part of a balanced diet, can help manage blood cholesterol.

    Last Update September 2016

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

    Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat, but due to their unusual structure they behave more like a saturated fat in the body. They are found naturally in small amounts 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, unlike those in the USA. Nuts are virtually free of trans fat

    Trans fats increase the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and reduce HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), increasing heart disease risk (1).

    References:
    1) Denke MA. Dietary fats, fatty acids, and their effects on lipoproteins. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2006;8(6):466–471.

    Last Update September 2016

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

    Saturated fats are often referred to as ‘bad fats’ – they are not considered essential for good health, and have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and total cholesterol levels in the body. Saturated fat is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature. It is mainly found in animal products but can be found in some plant sources. Nuts contain a small proportion of saturated fat - but contain much higher amounts of the healthy unsaturated fats (1). In fact, it's these unsaturated fats which are considered one of the main reasons why nut eaters have less heart disease than those who never eat nuts (5).A daily handful of nuts can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30 to 50% (2-6).

    References:
    1) Nuts For Life. Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.
    2) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    3) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    4) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    5) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    6) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.

    Last Update September 2016

    What fats do nuts contain?

    Any food that contains fat contains all three types of fat – saturated (bad), monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (good fats) - the amount of each type is different for different foods. Nuts are a good source of the healthy or good fats - polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, with much lower proportions of saturated fats and virtually no trans fats. The fat profile of each nuts varies, so including a variety of nuts in your diet is a smart choice and ensures you have a good balance of healthy fats.

    Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios are higher in monounsaturated fats; whereas Brazil nuts, pine nuts and walnuts have more polyunsaturated fats (1).

    Walnuts are one of the few plant foods that also contain an essential polyunsaturated fat - a plant omega-3 fat called Alpha Linolenic Acid or ALA, with smaller amounts found in pecans, hazelnuts and macadamias (1). 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 it still has important heart health functions (2).

    Nuts are a healthy high-fat food in a fat-phobic world. It’s time we moved on from the low total fat diet mantra of the 1980s-90s to eating a lower saturated fat diet. We should be eating foods high in healthy fats such as nuts, avocados and fish, and use healthy cooking oils. We should limit or avoid foods high in saturated fats which can raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease (3).

    References:
    1) Nuts For Life. Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. 2016.
    2) De Lorgeril M et al. Alpha-linolenic acid and coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2004;14(3):162-9.
    3) National Heart Foundation 2009. Q & A: Dietary fats, dietary cholesterol and heart health. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sites/HealthyEating/SiteCollectionDocuments/DietaryFats%20QA.pdf Accessed 22/12/10.

    Last Update September 2016

    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 (1-7).
    • Nuts are a whole food and not all the energy in nuts is absorbed. Research suggests around 10% of energy passes through your system and is excreted - trapped in the nut’s fibrous structure (5-8).
    • Nuts increase energy expenditure. It's been found that 10% of the energy that nuts contain is used to fuel the process of digesting them (6).
    • Nuts have a Glycemic Index-lowering effect – when mixed with carbohydrate foods in a meal, they slow the digestion and the release of glucose into the blood stream, which satisfies the appetite for longer (9-11).
    • Nuts improve insulin sensitivity, via their healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats (11). Insulin resistance can lead to weight gain, and nuts have been shown to reduce insulin levels and therefore improve insulin sensitivity.
    • Nuts make an enjoyable addition to the diet. Research shows that people are more likely to stick with their weight loss plan if the plan contains nuts - so they achieve greater success.
    References:
    1) Noakes M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17(S1):169-71.
    2) Pereira MA et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am 2001; 48(4):969-80.
    3) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    4) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    5) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    6) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    7) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.
    8) Traoret CJ et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond) 2008; 32(2):322-8.
    9) Jenkins DJ et al. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006; 136(12):2987-92.
    10) Sujatha R et al. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance. Br J Nutr 2006; 96(S2):S79–86.
    11) Casas-Agustench P et al. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2010;19(1):124-130.

    Last Update September 2016

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

    Yes, nuts are high in fat, but they are high in the good unsaturated fats and contain very little of the bad saturated fats. 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 a healthy eating plan for longer (6,7). Nuts contain nutrients which can help control appetite such as healthy fats, fibre and protein. Yes, healthy fats can reduce our desire to eat by switching on some of the satiety hormones in the intestines (8-10). And finally, studies have found nut eaters excrete around 10% more fat in their stools, meaning that they absorb less fat and energy (10-12).

    So it appears you can enjoy a regular handful of nuts AND help to manage your weight.

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
    6) Bes-Rastrollo M et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89 1913-1919.
    7) Martínez-González MA et al. Nut consumption, weight gain and obesity: Epidemiological evidence. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21 Suppl 1:S40-5.
    8) Pasman WJ et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20; 7:10.
    9) Hughes GM et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis 2008; 7:6.
    10) Cassady BA et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(3):794-800.
    11) Mattes R. The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1):337-9.
    12) Ellis PR et al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:604-13.

    Last Update September 2016

    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 (1).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 gets sticky and can block arteries, whereas HDL is considered the good kind as it helps to 'mop up' any build up in the arteries.

    Plants do not contain cholesterol, so you won’t find cholesterol in natural plant foods such as nuts or avocados.

    References:
    1) Essentials of human nutrition 2007. Oxford University Press, 3rd Edition. Mann J and Truswell AS (Eds).

    Last Update September 2016

    Can nuts lower blood cholesterol?

    Eating nuts regularly can improve blood fats, particularly by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol (1,2). 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% (1). More recently, a review of 61 controlled studies concluded that tree nut intake lowers total and LDL cholesterol, with stronger effects observed at intakes of greater than 60g of nuts/day (3).

    Reference:
    1) Sabaté J et al. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170(9):821-7.
    2) Greil AE et al. Tree nuts and the lipid profile: a review of clinical studies. British J Nutrition 2007;96(S2):S68-S78.
    3) Del Gobbo LC et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1347-56.

    Last Update September 2016

    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 daily handful of nuts (about 30g) can significantly 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 those who never eat nuts (4).

    References:
    1) Albert CM et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382-7.
    2) Ellsworth JL et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease 2001;11(6):372-7.
    3) Hu FB et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
    4) Fraser GE et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med 1991; 152: 1416-24.
    5) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.

    Last Update October 2016

    How do nuts affect good and bad cholesterol?

    Research has shown that around two handfuls (approx 60g) of nuts a day can significantly reduce total and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5% and 7% respectively (1). Some studies have shown that nuts increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, however there is a lack of consistent effects.

    References:
    1) Sabaté J et al. Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med 2010;170(9):821-7.

    Last Update October 2016

    What is the difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol?

    Dietary cholesterol is the cholesterol present in foods such as eggs and shellfish, whereas blood cholesterol is what is made by your body by the liver. We used to think that eating foods high in dietary cholesterol increased blood cholesterol, but we now know this is not the case. For most people, cholesterol in foods doesn't get directly absorbed and converted into cholesterol in your blood, and so has a very small effect. Blood cholesterol is affected mainly by the fats you eat - in particular saturated fats (found in animal foods) and trans fats. Your liver then makes cholesterol from these saturated fats. Saturated fats increase LDL (bad) cholesterol (1).

    References:
    1) National Heart Foundation 2009. Q & A: Dietary fats, dietary cholesterol and heart health. https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sites/HealthyEating/SiteCollectionDocuments/DietaryFats%20QA.pdf Accessed 22/12/10.

    Last Update October 2016

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