4 Myths About Eating Nuts Busted

By Jiri Kaloc

There are a lot of strong opinions about nuts out there. Unfortunately, many of them are simply myths spread by word of mouth and social media. Let’s clarify the most common ones.

#1 Raw nuts are healthier than roasted nuts

Some people claim that raw nuts are more nutritious than roasted ones. But there are also people saying that roasting is what makes nuts more nutritious. It turns out that both opinions are true to an extent. Raw nuts preserve more B-vitamins, vitamin E, and carotenoids. Roasting reduces lectins and phytic acid, which are compounds that inhibit nutrient absorption and cause some people digestive problems. This one is busted. As long as you can tolerate raw nuts, you will benefit from eating both raw and roasted nuts just about the same.

Keep in mind that no matter if you’re eating raw or roasted nuts, always make sure they are fresh. They should be crunchy and pleasant tasting. If they feel chewy and the taste is bitter, throw the rest away, they might be starting to go rancid.

It seems with so many calories, nuts should be very good at making us fat.

#2 Nuts are a good source of protein

Meat is likely the best animal protein source, a chicken breast gives you around 30 g of protein per 100 g. Good plant sources of protein include tofu with around 15 g and tempeh with 20 g of protein per 100 g. To compare, this is how much protein some of the most popular nuts have per 100 g.

  • Pecan nuts: 8,8 g
  • Brazil nuts: 14 g
  • Walnuts: 15,9 g
  • Cashews: 17,6 g
  • Pistachios: 22 g
  • Almonds: 22 g
  • Peanuts: 23 g

It might seem like pistachios, almonds or peanuts might just be good enough sources. But you have to consider calories. With those 22 g of protein, you’re also getting about 50 g of fat and 20 g of carbs, which means you would be getting roughly 600 kcal. For reference, a full medium-sized meal would also be around 600 kcal. On the other hand, the chicken breast, tofu or tempeh provide very little fat or carbs, so you only get around 180 kcal. That leaves you space to add other healthful ingredients to your meal and not just eat nuts. This myth is semi-busted. Nuts do contain some protein but think of them more as a fat source when including them in meals.

#3 Almonds are much healthier than peanuts

Let’s start by comparing the nutritional profile of both of these to see if this is a myth or a fact. The basic nutritional information for almonds and peanuts shows that both are actually quite similar.

  • 100 g of almonds: 597 kcal, 22 g of protein, 53 g of fat, 19 g of carbs, 12 g of fibre
  • 100 g of peanuts: 579 kcal, 23 g of protein, 49 g of fat, 21 g of carbs, 8 g of fibre

They are also quite comparable in terms of essential micro-nutrients. Peanuts are a slightly better source of vitamins B1, B3, and B9. Almonds offer slightly more vitamin E, vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. The focus here should be on the word slightly, the differences are not significant if you eat a reasonable amount of either.

Research also shows that eating either of the two is associated with decreased cardiovascular disease risk, lower cancer risk and all-cause mortality. Peanuts have separately been shown to decrease the risk of gallstones and improve memory and stress response. Almonds have been associated with decreased inflammation and oxidative stress.

To conclude, it’s clear that almonds and peanuts are more similar than different. They both offer amazing health benefits and nutrition. This one is clearly busted. Feel free to eat whichever you prefer, almonds, peanuts or both.

#4 Nuts are good for weight loss

Nuts are generally a healthy food item, they contain healthy fats, some protein, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. But they also contain a lot of calories, with around 600 kcal per 100 g, they are some of the most calorie-dense foods you can find. Whether they can help you lose weight or gain weight depends a lot on the quantity and context in which you consume them.

If you eat them in moderation, less than a handful per day, and use them to replace unhealthy processed junk food, they can help regulate appetite and promote fat loss. If you add them on top of junk food or consume large quantities mindlessly while watching TV, they are more likely to contribute to weight gain, than weight loss.

So, this one is semi-busted again. Nuts can be good for weight loss but it all depends on how you choose to include them in your diet.