Are you eating copious amounts of nuts for the sake of your health? Have you swapped your regular milk for a nut milk like almond or cashew milk? It’s time to reconsider. Perhaps you’ve been told to eat more nuts for the “healthy fat” content, the protein, the magnesium, the fibre, or the zinc they typically contain.
Let me tell you the truth. You’ve been misled. Nuts aren’t a healthy food, and in this article, we’ll explore why.
Why I Used to Believe Nuts Were Healthy
I used to eat a lot of nuts because I thought they were super healthy. I often bought nuts as a healthier alternative to take to parties, and I would make a lot of desserts using nut flours like almond or macadamia flour.
I thought nuts were healthy because:
They are high in fat
They contain protein
They contain magnesium
They are high in fibre
But let me tell you a quick story. Once upon a time, I had stomach pain every day for two months. I suffered daily and wondered what was wrong with me. It was driving me nuts. But then I cut out the nuts in my diet (I was eating nuts daily) and my pain went away completely. If I could go back in time and tell myself to just put down the nuts, I would.
As I learned more about the true effects that nuts have on our health, everything made a lot more sense. I understood why I had pain every day and why I gained weight on a low-carb diet.
Why Nuts Aren’t Good for You
Here’s something you need to know about plants: plants can’t fight or run to save their lives when something wants to eat them, so they have to try to protect themselves in other ways. They release plant chemicals to try and deter animals from eating them.
In fact, plants don’t want you to eat their seeds, roots, stems, or leaves. They especially want to protect their plant babies — their seeds. Nuts are the seeds of their plants. Do you know what?
Grains are seeds from grasses.
Nuts are seeds from trees.
Beans are seeds from legumes.
Seeds are seeds from flowers and fruit.
Nuts can cause inflammation, disrupt your gut, promote weight gain, and even kill those with severe nut allergies. This is all mostly due to the plant toxins and antinutrients they contain.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at why nuts aren’t good for you:
Nuts Contain Antinutrients
Nuts are high in antinutrients like oxalates, phytates, and lectins. Antinutrients are plant compounds that bind to certain vitamins and minerals and make it harder for you to absorb the nutrients in your food. They can also inhibit important digestive enzymes.
These antinutrients don’t just make it harder for you to absorb certain nutrients in your food. They each bring their own list of negative side effects to the table.
Oxalates in nuts bind with calcium in the body and form oxalate crystals. They make it hard for your body to absorb calcium from your food. They can build up in your kidneys and cause kidney stones. Oxalates can also put stress on your body and cause oxidative stress and inflammation.
Phytic acid binds to various minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium, and makes it harder for you to absorb them. Consuming a lot of phytic acid can therefore lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Lectins make it hard for your body to absorb nutrients like iron, phosphorus, zinc, and calcium, and therefore contribute to nutrient deficiencies. Lectins can also damage your gut lining and cause leaky gut syndrome, which is why I think they gave me digestive distress. They also play a role in autoimmune diseases and can trigger rheumatoid arthritis.
Nuts Are High in Linoleic Acid
Nuts are very high in linoleic acid, a type of polyunsaturated fat. Linoleic acid is a type of omega-6 fatty acid, and if you don’t know, consuming too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause inflammation in the body and contribute to autoimmune diseases as well as cardiovascular disease.
Linoleic acid signals to your body that it should store more fat. Linoleic acid is more abundant in nature before winter, and eating them a lot is basically telling your body that winter is coming. If you eat nuts throughout the entire year, you are more likely to store fat and be in winter-preparation mode.
I started to lose weight easily when I drastically cut my intake of linoleic acid and eliminated all nuts, nut butters, and nut milks from my diet. Weight loss also became easier when I increased my intake of stearic acid from high-quality animal foods like fatty cuts of beef and lamb, as well as beef tallow.
How Is Your Digestion After Eating Nuts?
How does your digestive system respond when you eat nuts when you really pay attention? I’ve had a few discussions with people where the topic of “why I no longer eat nuts” came up. When I mentioned that I always get digestive problems after eating nuts and explained that nuts contain things like lectins and oxalates, the response I often get is that people say that nuts don’t agree with them either.
I’ve heard confessions from people who eat nuts regularly because they were told nuts are healthy and we should eat more of them, but that their digestive systems always suffer. They endured the side effects of eating nuts, because, well… nuts are healthy, aren’t they? I don’t think so.
Eating nuts is a personal decision. If, after reading this article, you still want to make nuts a regular part of your diet, nobody is going to stop you. You can make your own decisions when it comes to food, but at least now you can make an informed decision.
At this point, for me, I don’t even see nuts as an option when I go to the store. My brain has put nuts on the same level as a lot of junk food. If you have it now and then, the effects probably won’t be that bad, but if they regularly feature in your diet, it will probably cause a few problems — even if you’re not aware of it.
If eating nuts isn’t worth the oxalates, lectins, and phytic acid, or digestive distress, don’t eat them. And don’t let anyone bully you into eating nuts because they are “good for you”. They really aren’t that great.