Why dietitians are nuts about nuts

The role of nuts in our diet has been singled out for special attention.

Are nuts good for me?

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 are also a good source of fibre and have a low Glycaemic Index (GI) which means they will help keep you fuller for longer.

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.

Plain unsalted nuts are the best choices. Salted nuts are high in sodium, and nuts that are commercially roasted can be high in added fats, cancelling out the positive benefits of including nuts in your diet. 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.

How many nuts should I eat?

Because nuts are naturally high in healthy fats, they will add to your energy intake. So, for good health you should eat nuts in moderation. This means about one serve of nuts per day as part of a healthy diet.

A serve of nuts is about 1/3 of a cup or 30g, which is equal to:

  • 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
  • 10 whole walnuts or 20 walnut halves
  • A small handful of mixed nuts.

Add a little extra crunch to your day! Include more nuts by:

  • 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.

Special groups

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.