We’ve gone nuts for nuts.
Between nuts, nut milks, nut butters and nut flours, we are consuming more nuts than ever before.
It takes 23 almonds to make 1/4 cup of almond butter, 69 almonds to make 1 cup of almond flour and 46 almonds to make 8 ounces of almond milk.
Nuts offer a variety of beneficial nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, antioxidants, polyphenols, phytosterols, omega-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid and L-arginine, depending on the nut.
They can help support healthy cholesterol levels, promote weight loss, reduce inflammation and improve gut health as a good source of fiber that supports healthy bacteria and short-chain fatty acid production.
Many of today’s “health foods” have begun using processed nuts as alternatives to milk, flour and butter.
This is great for those who have food intolerances to dairy or grains, but without realizing it, a surprisingly large part of our diet can suddenly become derived from nuts.
There are a few reasons to make sure you’re aware of your total daily nut intake.
Nuts contain phytic acid, which can bind to minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, manganese, chromium and calcium, and prevent the body from absorbing them.
People prone to mineral deficiencies may want to be particularly aware of not over-consuming nuts in order to ensure an optimal mineral status.
Nuts can also contain a good amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which can lead to imbalances that cause inflammation.
Our bodies require a healthy balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, however, our modern diet predisposes us to much higher amounts of omega-6s and lower amounts of omega-3s, leading to an imbalance of fatty acids.
Nuts can also be hard on the digestion for some people due to their inhibitory effect on digestive enzymes, such as pepsin, trypsin and amylase.
By inhibiting digestive enzymes, we reduce our ability to digest and absorb the foods and nutrients we consume.
The best approach to consuming nuts is to always try to choose sprouted nuts––which are easier to digest due to the deactivation of some of the phytic acid––and to keep your cumulative daily nut intake (nuts, nut milks, nut butters and nut flours) to no more than equal to one handful in total.