Many of us turn to nuts as quick snack or replacement for flour in desserts. They nourish us, distribute protein to the cells, and can add texture to many prepared dishes. They definitely help make the transition to low carb and/or paleo much easier.
However, nuts do have some drawbacks that you should be aware of if you are consuming them on a regular basis. Occasionally at best. As you’ll read here, nuts are definitely not the healthiest option with over consumption.
Nuts Contain Anti-Nutrients
You may not be aware, but consuming too many nuts can be a bad thing because of their high rate of phytic acid. This is a form of phosphorus found in many plants that humans cannot actually digest. It lingers within the body, and actually absorbs incoming vitamins and minerals coming into the body for nourishment. Highly useful materials such as zinc aren’t even absorbed by the body.
Nuts and grains are equal in the amount of phytic acid, and so going grain-free may not be enough if you are still experiencing digestive issues. This is especially important for those that are prone to mineral deficiencies. Diseases of mineral deficiency, such as osteoporosis, are much more common in societies that promote cereals and other foods with high amounts of phytic acid.
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Nuts Encourage Imbalance
While it’s true that nuts make a person feel full and can provide protein in a pinch, they are filled to the brim with omega-6, the unhealthy cousin of the beneficial fatty acid omega-3. The average Western diet actually contains 10-25 times the recommended amount of omega-6. That amount is over 7 times the average intake of omega-3.
This imbalance is bad news for those coping with omega-3 deficiency. Omega-3 activity is hindered by the presence of excessive omega-6, because they compete for the same enzymes within the body. So instead of receiving the benefits of omega-3s, we are left with the aftereffects of excessive omega-6 in our cells: Inflammation and heart disease.
Part of the answer in readjusting an imbalance of these two fatty acids is to consume an equal amount of omega-6 and omega-3. Click here to see a list of foods that contain significant amounts of omega-3s. But if you must consume nuts, there is one way to reap all of their benefits while minimizing their drawbacks…
The Alternative Solution: Soaking Nuts
Many traditional societies would prepare nuts for consumption by soaking and dehydrating them. This was the method used for centuries to ready the beans for human consumption, by way of removing unhealthy elements with healthy bacteria.
The basic recommendation from the Weston A. Price Foundation is to soak them in water for 18 hours, then dehydrate them in an oven or dehydrator until done. This requires a low temperature, and a lot of patience. But it’s worth it. This process alone eliminates much of the phylate found in most nuts in the United States. With most of the phylate gone, you can feel free to enjoy a modest amount of nuts in your diets. Just try balancing it out with some fish!