Nuts are healthy. Nuts are unhealthy. Nuts are full of fat so avoid them. There’s Omega3 in nuts so eat them. There is a debate raging about the health benefits of eating those delightful little treats that we know as nuts.
The debate rages, because there is no doubt that nuts are high in fat. And yet it is also well-known that not all fat is bad for you, and that although some types, particularly saturated fat which is commonly found in animal products, is bad for you, the essential fatty acids known as the Omega 3 fats are good for you. There’s Omega 3 in nuts, but there is also saturated fat.
Confused yet? Many people are, and I’ll confuse you further.
You see there is a number of different types of the “Omega” fats. Almost everyone knows about Omega 3, but less well known is that there is another type called Omega 6 which, whilst also an essential fatty acid, is one that most of us eat too much of, and this isn’t good for us.
And whilst there is Omega 3 in nuts there is also Omega 6. And the 6 isn’t so good for most of us.
And yet there is research showing that there is a wide range of nutrients in nuts, including many of the important vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that eating nuts may help reduce the risk of breast cancer or type II diabetes and lower cholesterol.
As many are high in calcium they may also offer the benefits of increased calcium consumption.
And yet they are also very calorie dense. If you’re looking to lose weight you certainly don’t want to be wolfing down handfuls of nuts, not unless we want to reduce your calorie intake in some other way to account for this.
So to return to the question in our title, should you be eating nuts?
It’s not a question with a clear answer, it’s one of those annoying questions which is answered with “it depends”. However there is very little evidence that eating nuts in moderation is bad for you, although it might add a little weight. And there is some evidence that eating nuts in moderation can be good for you, but remember that important word, moderation.
However if you’re eating those tasty little treats purely because there is Omega 3 in nuts, then don’t bother. There are much better Omega 3 rich foods.
Not only that but the type of Omega 3 is not the best type, the type found in nuts is one called ALA. The Omega 3 fat found in fish is DHA and EPA, and there is clear evidence that these are much more important to your health than ALA.
So if you’re looking for Omega 3 in foods, bypass the nuts and eat fish. Oily fish in particular is the best type, though even eating fish has it’s conundrums, because a lot of fish is contaminated with toxins such as Mercury and PCBs.
Probably the best way to get your Omega 3 is by taking Omega 3 supplements. Note that not all supplements are high quality.
But don’t swear off nuts. They’re yummy, full of nutrients, and crunchy. But don’t eat them by the handful.
And to find out more about the Omega 3 essential fatty acids hit me.