Why dietitians are nuts about nuts
The role of nuts in our diet has been singled out for special attention.
Like all plant foods, nuts are a good source of antioxidants and a range of vitamins and minerals. They also have high levels of the healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) and low levels of the unhealthy fats (saturated fats).
Nuts contain around 10 to 20% protein, a similar amount to that found in eggs. They sit alongside meat and eggs in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating as they share similar nutrient profiles. So, nuts can be a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Raw or roasted unsalted nuts are the best choices. Salted nuts are high in sodium, and due to the abundance of salt in our diet, it’s best to opt for non-salted varieties. Nuts are delicious and tasty on their own, but if you want to try something different, dry roast your nuts at home with a light dusting of turmeric or a sprinkling of rosemary.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines indicates that a serve of nuts is around 30g, 1/3 of a cup or a handful of nuts. This equates to approximately:
- 20 almonds
- 10 Brazil nuts
- 15 cashews
- 4 chestnuts
- 20 hazelnuts
- 15 macadamias
- 15 pecans
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 60 pistachios in shells for 30g of kernels
- 5 whole walnuts or 10 walnut halves
- A small handful of mixed nuts.
- Sprinkling chopped nuts onto your stir fry
- Sprinkling chopped nuts onto your cereal
- Enjoying a slice of fruit bread with a thin spread of peanut butter or other nut butter as a snack
- Having a mix of raw nuts as a snack instead of other unhealthy options like chips or chocolate
- Adding some nuts to a salad.
Some children have severe allergies to nuts. These reactions often last through to adulthood. If you or your child has a nut allergy, it is important to strictly avoid nuts.
An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide you with more advice and suggestions on how to include nuts as part of a healthy diet.