Health Nut - Everything You Need To Know About Nuts And Nut Butters (Part 1) - The Right Dose,Macadamia Nuts, Almonds

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Often when you read an article on nutrition, whether it be from a newspaper, magazine, website or journal, you’ll learn about the many health benefits of nuts and why they should be included in your daily eating plan.

However, you may also read articles that discuss how nuts can ‘damage’ your waistline due to their fat and calorie content. As with so many other areas of nutrition it can get confusing. This then begs the question, should you be eating nuts, and if so, which nuts should you be eating?

The Right Dose

A handful of nuts, which is approximately 28g, contains around 160-200 calories, 80% of which is derived from fat. As such, that is your daily recommended dose – and yes, you should be eating nuts daily. Despite the calorific nature of nuts, a study has found that the more people eat nuts, the leaner they ended up being. A Mediterranean study that tracked the effects of nut consumption on weight gain over the course of 28 months found that those who frequently consumed nuts gained less weight than those who never ate nuts. They were also 43% less likely to become overweight or obese.

However, it is important to choose the right kind of nut to get the greatest health benefit. Matthew Ballenden, founder and owner of natural and organic food market Fresh Earth, explains that peanuts are the most pervasive type of nut in modern Western diets as they are the easiest and cheapest to cultivate. “The peanut is a type of ground nut, which makes it the most suitable for comercialised farming. Unfortunately, it is a calorie-dense nut that offers fewer health benefits than other types of nuts. It is also really rich in omega-6 fats, which exacerbates the omega-3 to omega-6 imbalance we already have in our modern diets.” Ballenden adds that various nuts also have a higher protein content, making them an ideal source of plant protein, which is less acid-forming than animal protein. “More importantly though, certain nuts contains all the fats and minerals you want in your body, which makes them super-nuts.”

Macadamia Nuts

According to Ballenden, macadamia nuts are another super-nut thanks to their nutritional value, and they’re also more palatable than walnuts. “As such, I always ride with are handful of macadamia nuts for my race fuel as they a great source of energy.” Macadamias are also a rich source of omega fatty acid, with a favourable 3:6:9 ratio (skewed towards a greater omega-3 content) and between 78-86% of this nut’s fat content is healthy monounsaturated fat.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Nuts

In addition, macadamia nuts contain palmitoleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up fat metabolism, thus reducing the body’s ability to store fat. They have a very high mineral content, particularly calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, potassium and phosphorus. They also have a great vitamin profile.


Almonds contain the most fibre compared to other nuts. They are also the richest nut source of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that is important to our muscles because it helps prevent free radical damage after workouts or muscle damage. Research also shows that almonds are especially healthy for those worried about their blood sugar levels. Almonds contain around 17% of our daily requirement of vitamin B2, which is what helps our bodies convert food to energy. This vitamin also has a positive effect on athletic training, performance and strength.


In addition to being good for healthy skin, hair, eyes and liver, almonds are rich in calcium, magnesium and potassium, which are all essential for bone health. “Almonds are also a great alkalising food and have a high protein content,” continues Ballenden.

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