Are nuts and seeds keto friendly? Here in Southern California it seems like everyone is crazy about nuts. You can find raw and roasted nuts, trail mix, almond butter, pili nuts, etc at almost every health food store you walk into. There is even cannabis infused nut butter! However, are nuts and seeds really all they are ‘cracked’ out to be?
Well nuts and seeds are a good source of micro-nutrients, including selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron. However, in the context of the human body, nuts and seeds (along with grains, legumes, and soy) contain high levels of phytates, ‘anti-nutrients’ which block the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
High intakes of phytate-rich foods in the diet can actually cause mineral deficiencies. The phytates inhibit the absorption of minerals not only in phytate rich foods, but in other foods eaten in combination with them.
Phytates in nuts and seeds interfere with the enzymes we need to digest our food, including amylase, pepsin, and trypsin.
Nuts and seeds are rich in polyunsaturated oil which is often touted as ‘healthy’ but far from it. These fats suppress metabolism, contributing to weight gain, tissue destruction, free radical damage, insulin resistance and a host of other health problems. The fats are highly unstable (prone to oxidation and rancidity) and you would be hard-pressed to find fresh nuts around that aren’t already rancid.
The polyunsaturated fats in nuts and seeds suppress energy metabolism and thyroid hormone, and actually can contribute to weight gain (which is good if you are a squirrel that wants to hibernate for the winter but not so great if you are a human). Coconut oil, and short-chain saturated fats are better for weight-loss.
Nuts and seeds are also extremely hard for the human digestive system to assimilate. They are common contributors to intestinal irritation, bloating and indigestion.
Of course, as part of a well-rounded, healthy diet that contains lots of pro-metabolic foods and nutrients, a couple of nuts here or a little tahini isn’t worth losing sleep over. But see nuts and seeds for what they are – not glorified ‘health foods’.
If you’re insistent on consuming nuts and seeds as part of your diet, it’s best to do so according to some simple guidelines:
1. Soak your nuts and seeds – they’ll still be high in polyunsaturated fat, but at least soaking (and/or sprouting) will start to break down the anti-nutrients that are present. This will render them slightly more digestible so you can absorb more nutrients.
2. Opts for macadamia nuts – they are lowest in both anti-nutrients and polyunsaturated fat (they contain predominately mono-unsaturated fat which is more stable and less likely to cause oxidative damage).
3. Consume small amounts of whole nuts and seeds, and avoid all nut and seed oils, which are more concentrated sources of polyunsaturated fats and do not contain any of the protective nutrients found in whole nuts/seeds. Less is better – aim for less than two small servings a week.
A word on coconut: Coconut fat is richly saturated, pro-metabolic and highly nutritious. Coconut oil in particular has been widely researched for its healthful properties. It is a great oil to cook with and is stable at high temperatures.
Coconut flour is still high in phytates, just like nuts and seeds (and grains, soy and legumes), but does not carry with it the other problems of nuts and seeds such as a high polyunsaturated fat content. This makes it a much better option for baking than almond and other nut flours.
Description: Are Nuts and Seeds Keto Friendly?