Nuts

A place to get your questions answered from expert dietitian Jeff Novick, RD

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Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:58 pm

Hi Suebee

Suebee wrote:Believe me, I am not challenging you Jeff. I really, really appreciate the thoroughness of your replies.


Thanks. But, my comment about challenging me was not directed or intended to you and was not meant to be negative. I encourage you to challenge me and question me. But, just don't use internet spam and hear-say. We will all become better educated and more comfortable with our choices the better we understand them.

Suebee wrote:He didn't recommend flax years ago but now he does.


No one really knew about them a few years ago, let alone the importance of omega 3s, etc.

Suebee wrote: Dr Mc said if one eats lots of greens you could get your omega-3 fats that way AS LONG AS you didn't ruin the ratio by adding omega-6's (nuts, seeds). I was wondering about those nuts containing omega 6 fats.


Yes, just green leafy veggies alone can supply one with all their omega 3s (and 6s) and in the perfect ratio, if they would eat enough of them. I show such a slide in one of my talks at the McDougall Program

The other issue is Omega 6s (and saturated fat) and making sure we do not get in too much of either. Ideally, saturated fat should be under 5% of our calories and the omega 6 to 3 ratio should be under 4:1 with under 2:1 even better.

Unfortunately, some nuts are very high in omega 6s and some are higher in saturated fat. So if you include any of these you would not want to over do them.

Most nuts have little if any omega 3s so they have very very poor ratios of omega 6 to omega 3s.

Black Walnuts are 16:1
English Walnuts 4:1
Pecans are 20:1
Pistachio is 37:1
Pine Nuts are 300:1
Macadamia is 6:1
Hazelnut is 88:1
Cashew is 117:1
Brazil Nut is 1000:1
Almonds 1800:1
Pumpkin Seeds 117:1
Sunflower Seeds 300:1

CA Avocados 15:1
FL Avocados 16.5:1

Flaxseed 3.9:1 ***
Chia Seed 3:1 ***

(***these is a reverse ratio as the omega 3 is higher than the omega 6)

In regard to Saturated fat

Black Walnuts are 5%
English Walnuts are 8%
Pecans are 8%
Pistachio is 8.5%
Pine Nuts are 6.6%
Macadamia is 15%
Hazelnut is 6.5%
Cashew is 12.5%
Brazil Nut is 21%
Almonds are 6%
Pumpkin Seeds 14%
Sunflower Seeds 6.5%

Flaxseed 6%
Chia Seed 6%

CA Avocados 11.5%
FL Avocados 15%

As you can see, most are not bad, but some are fairly high in saturated fat and some are really high in omega 6s. Some of these, like cashews may not be great choices. They are over 12% saturated fat and have a ratio of 117:1 Pumpkin seeds and brazil nuts are also not the best choices as they are also "higher" in saturated fat and have a "higher" ratio.

It looks like English Walnuts would be the best choice by far.

Suebee wrote:claims nuts and avocado being in their unprocessed forms do not cause the occlusion to the arteries that oil causes. I've no idea about that claim.


While I would like to beleive this also, I do not know of much evidence supporting it.

There is one study that compared the effects of walnuts to olive oil on blood flow and yes, walnuts did not negatively effect blood flow and actually had a positive effect. But that is for walnuts, and they used the English walnuts which has one of the best profiles of all the nuts, is low in saturated fat, and also contributed 5.4 grams of omega 3s. The amount used was about 1.5 oz. So, we could say this for English Walnuts.

But we also know that we get a similar effect from giving subjects and oil that is high in Omega 3s. So, if most of the effect is from the omega 3s, then we can wonder if the other nuts will have the same benefit as they are low in omega 3s

But considering the poor level of Omega 3s, the poor ratios of Omega 6:3, I would not be willing to say other nuts/seeds would have the same effect.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
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Postby ncyg46 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:05 pm

wow Jeff...

so everything that is said about the raw cashew nuts is off! And that is in every recipe in some sites for creaminess, no wonder why I can't do the 1 cup in some of the recipes! The only thing I do use everyday is the flaxseed freshly ground....thanks!
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Postby Suebee » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:11 pm

Thanks again Jeff! I'm printing out this list of nuts, their ratios and fat content! I've never seen such a complete list. You are certainly earning your keep today! :D By the way, what do you do when/if you attend a vegan conference where a lot of the food is smothered in fats? I listed elsewhere that my husband and I are signed up to attend Dr. F.'s health conference/vacation (I doubt we can back out and it's too much money to lose). I sure hope there are baked potatoes, squash, SOMETHING we can eat that isn't all fat! I think they said there wouldn't be any bread.
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Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:12 pm

I doubt an ounce or two of any of these would be harmful and may have some benefit. But, considering the amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, omega 6s, omega 3s and the ratios, if i was going to choose one to add, I would probably choose the English Walnut and/or the flax seed or chia seed

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almonds 1800:1

Postby gail f » Wed Mar 19, 2008 4:42 pm

Hi Jeff, I found your posting about the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in almonds to be mind boggling. I have read several times that I should take a few almonds to lower my bad LDL's. Can you shed some light on the reason why almonds are so frequently recommended ? Thanks, Gail
Last edited by gail f on Wed Mar 19, 2008 8:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: almonds 1800:1

Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:03 pm

gail f wrote:Hi Jeff, I found your posting about the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in almonds to be mind boggling. I have read several times that I should take a few almonds to lower my bad LDL's. Can you shed some light on why almonds are so frequently recommended ? Thanks, Gail


Sure. But, lots of what we read is nothing more than marketing and advertising and not always presented in proper perspective.

And, again, we are mixing things up. And, when we put in all in perspective, it makes sense.

First, almonds are not recommended as a source of omega 3 or to improve your omega 6:3 ratio. That is a separate issue.

Second, we have to understand that many of these studies on nuts are done on typical Americans eating typically bad American diets. Adding in some nuts and seeds will show improvement but nothing like you will get by going on really healthy low fat high fiber plant based diet, with or without nuts.

Some of the studies were done on the 7th Day Adventists who have many other healthy lifestyle practices besides just eating nuts. If you want the full benefit, you have to do all the other things they do also.

We also have to understand that the amount of nuts they are talking about is not a lot, and all nuts are very high in calories and many people overeat on them. The official health claim is for 1.5 oz of nuts per day.

Third, some MDs do recommend almonds (and./or other nuts) to help reduce your risk for heart disease. I explained the rationale for that advice including the FDA official health claim above. Also, it is much easier for them to recommend for you add in nuts, then to try and work with someone in changing their whole diet and lifestyle. So, they recommend nuts. :)

To review..

When you replace saturated fat in your diet with unsaturated fats, such as those that are in almonds, you will most likely see your cholesterol and LDL levels go down. And there is some evidence that even just adding some nuts to a typical diet, will show some improvement in CVD risk factors. But, that should not be a surprise as the nuts would probably be the healthiest thing in their diet. Adding healthy food to a bad diet makes it better.

And, this doesnt mean that someone already on a healthy low fat diet, like the one recommended here, is going to see the same benefit by adding in some nuts. I know of no evidence showing that adding nuts to a well planned low fat high fiber healthy diet like the McDougall, Ornish, Pritikin, Okinawan diet is going to make it healthier.

Now, of course, not everyone follows such a diet and instead follows a low fat high carb, low fiber, highly refined diet.

Why Almonds?

One clinical trial (1) conducted at the University of Toronto, found,

Consumption of 73 g of almonds daily as a supplement in the diets of hyperlipidemic subjects reduced LDL cholesterol from baseline by 9.4%, whereas 37 g/d almonds (a "hand full") reduced LDL cholesterol by 4.4%. These data suggest a dose response in which ~7 g of almonds per day reduces LDL cholesterol by ~1%,

Going on a diet like the McDougall diet can lower your LDL by 30% or more in around 12 days. Which would you prefer, a 4.5% to 9.4% reduction or a 30%?

In addition, 73 grams of almonds is about 2.5 oz, which is also 420 calories. I do not know many Americans who can afford to supplement/add 420 calories to their diet everyday. We have an obesity epidemic in this country and to give out advice to consume 420 more calories a day, without putting it all in perspective or explaining other healthier alternatives, is in my mind, not a good idea and borders on malpractice. You can say, this is nuts! :)

This is why we have to talk about the total context of a diet and not one sub section like "nuts." All discussions about food and diet should be in the context of the whole diet and lifestyle.

Also,

In another study (2) substituting 68 grams of almonds in a AHA Step II diet showed improvements in cholesterol, and LDL levels. But, again, that should not be a surprise. Substituting in a healthy food to a bad diet makes it better.

So, if you want to include some almonds, make sure you dont add them in on top of your existing diet but instead substitute them for something less healthy and keep the limit to no more than 1-2 oz at most. And, if weight is a problem, stick with the lower range.

However, you will see a much greater decrease in total cholesterol and LDL if you adhered to a diet like the one recommended here, with or without the nuts.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD

1) Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide
A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial
Circulation. 2002;106:1327-1332

2) Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jun;77(6):1379-84. Serum lipid response to the graduated enrichment of a Step I diet with almonds: a randomized feeding trial..
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Postby ncyg46 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:08 pm

Jeff...

didn't see any response to the amount of raw cashews in all the recipes that I have from another source. I can't handle them for the most part, just wanted to hear your opinion....
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Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:16 pm

ncyg46 wrote:Jeff...

didn't see any response to the amount of raw cashews in all the recipes that I have from another source. I can't handle them for the most part, just wanted to hear your opinion....


Hi,

My response above was to you also :)

JeffN wrote:I doubt an ounce or two of any of these (including the cashew) would be harmful and may have some benefit. But, considering the amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, omega 6s, omega 3s and the ratios, if i was going to choose one to add, I would probably choose the English Walnut and/or the flax seed or chia seed


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Postby ncyg46 » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:04 am

thanks Jeff!
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Postby auntemmy » Thu Mar 20, 2008 7:22 am

:D
~Emmy

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Po-ta-toes? Boil 'em. mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew?
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Don't worry about the conference!

Postby Barbara175 » Wed May 28, 2008 9:03 pm

Suebee wrote: By the way, what do you do when/if you attend a vegan conference where a lot of the food is smothered in fats? I listed elsewhere that my husband and I are signed up to attend Dr. F.'s health conference/vacation (I doubt we can back out and it's too much money to lose). I sure hope there are baked potatoes, squash, SOMETHING we can eat that isn't all fat! I think they said there wouldn't be any bread.


Hi Suebee-

I attended an all-day seminar given by Dr. Fuhrman, which included an absolutely delicious lunch. Yes, there were nuts, but some were avoidable. For instance, the salad had a choice of two dressings, one with cashews and one with balsamic vinegar. Also, I still have the recipes he gave us, and often they call for a very small amount of nuts - say 1/2 a cup of nuts for a dish that feeds 6 extremely generously.

Here's what we ate: A salad made with spinach, peppers and shitake mushrooms; a saute made with zucchini, sweet potatoes, corn, and peppers - no nuts at all; a soup made with carrots, butternut squash and kale and apples and a tiny amount of brazil nuts; and a broccoli, mushroom and tofu quiche. That one had a nut crust, which you could easily cut away. There was so much food, and since it was all buffet, you could eat what you wanted and avoid what you didn't.

One of Dr. Fuhrman's goals was to show that nutritious healthy food can be delicious, and so he pulled out all the stops for this one meal. There was even a delicious cake made with broccoli, dates, pineapple, applesauce, banana beets, carrots and zucchini - and some nuts. All the food did have some nuts but as I said, I don't think he means for anyone to eat like this every day of the week. I imagine you won't be offered so much to eat at his full week conference.

As for the bread - bread is a processed food, right? It's not a whole grain like rice or quinoa or amaranth or oats. Not much nutrition in bread, so why waste the calories.

I hope you keep an open mind and have a great time. I wanted to go to the conference myself, but can't leave the family. I loved listening to Dr. Fuhrman speak. He spoke for 8 hours with so much intelligence and passion it was really amazing. He also seemed quite personable.

If I lived on the west coast, I'd want to go to a McDougall get-away. I think there's way more similarities between the men and their plans than differences, despite the way this one particular thread has evolved. (Or devolved.)

And just to keep things fair, I'd also go to any seminar where JeffN was speaking.javascript:emoticon(':)')

I've never posted on these forums before, but I sympathized with you feeling so worried about signing up for something and then having second thoughts. I hope I was able to reassure you...

Barbara
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Postby Clary » Thu May 29, 2008 5:03 am

Are these amounts in regard to DAILY amounts? --or?

EDIT:
Never mind. :) I found your answer to this on pg. 2 of this thread. --daily. Thanks.


JeffN wrote:
Just a reminder, of what I posted earlier in this thread...

... if someone was to follow an optimal health supporting diet, and they wanted to include some nuts/seeds, then there is probably no problem with the inclusion of 1 or 2 oz of nuts/seeds (without oil and/or salt). However, if weight is a problem, I would limit that amount to 1 oz or less. And, if they are included, to consume them as part of a meal with other foods that are very low in calorie density.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
Last edited by Clary on Thu May 29, 2008 5:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Suebee » Thu May 29, 2008 5:06 am

Thank you, thank you Barbara! You've reassured me! Right now I'm not strict McDougall so I'm not going to worry about the nuts--we were just fearful we would be terribly hungry. :D Yes, bread is indeed "processed" and I've thought of excluding it from my diet to see how I feel. What I was told by the person who is setting things up is that breakfast would be a chocolate smoothie, oatmeal and fruit; lunch is soup and salad; dinner a big salad, side dish. MAYBE at one or two meals we might get a "dessert" as you've stated above. Sounds bleak. I have trouble with salads and raw vegetables. I'm sure the soups will be somewhat filling with plenty of cooked vegetables and a few beans. Still, I'm used to eating often to keep my blood sugar up and also digest more easily--too much food at once just bloats me and gives me cramps. Thanks again. I will try to relax as this approaches! Yes, we chose this for our vacation/anniversary as it will be a beautiful spot, good accommodations and not too far to travel (we live near Rochester, New York).
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Re: Don't worry about the conference!

Postby JeffN » Thu May 29, 2008 5:11 am

Hi Barbara

Barbara175 wrote:I've never posted on these forums before, but I sympathized with you feeling so worried about signing up for something and then having second thoughts. I hope I was able to reassure you...
Barbara


Thanks for your informative post and kind words.

Barbara175 wrote:And just to keep things fair, I'd also go to any seminar where JeffN was speaking :)


Thanks! Come visit anytime in CA. I guarantee you an incredible wonderful time. Just ask anyone who has been there this year. And some of the best tasting food you ever ate. There is a secret ingredient we use that is only available at the McD program, that is in all the food.

In regard to the debate and all of you who are involved in it or confused by it.

Open debate and discussion is good and almost always productive. There are many issues about food and diets that are confusing and so discussing them is beneficial.

While I appreciate anyone who has tried any of the programs and says the "feel better", that is great. But, then we open the doors to the 100s if not 1000s who follow high protein diets, high fat diets and all other crazy diets that also say they "feel better." We need evidence.

And, remember in our "court of law" the only real acceptable evidence is peer reviewed published studies. And, the other important issue in regard to the acceptable evidence is presenting them in an accurate way. This is where the problem comes in.

No one here is criticizing or condemning anyone else's diet (In the lower fat, vegetarian style world ie, Ornish, Pritikin, Barnard, Essellstyne, Fuhrman)) as being harmful and dangerous. We may discuss the fine points of the differences, as many threads here have done, but no one is condemning or criticizing these other programs. Yet that is exactly what is happening in regard to comments about this program (and some of the others like it).

However, statements and comments like this one..

The recommendations of vegetarian diet authors, such as Dean Ornish and John McDougall, can be helpful for the general public but are far from ideal for those with diabetes.

And this one..

"a 10% fat starch based diet is too low in fat for many people, and many end up quitting such a diet, and going back to eating meat, etc. Also, the 10% starch based diet can cause sudden cardiac death by heart arrhythmia. People thrive better on a diet with more fat, likely 15 to 40% fat, once they reach their weight goals (which is pinch 1/2 inch by the navel for men, 1 inch for women)."

And...

I just read another article in the NHA magazine advocating the use of nuts/seeds, up to 4 oz. daily. The use of this amount is supposed 2 replace carbs such as brown rice , potatoes, as these carb foods are responsible for higher rates of heart dx , cancer, sudden death, heart arrythmias as opposed 2 people who consume nuts/seeds."

..are all incorrect and have absolutely no evidence to support them. And in fact, the available evidence show the opposite. I have filled this forum with threads full of documentation and included the details of the studies, making these points. The above comments are misrepresentation of lower fat high carb diets and do not directly apply here

Now, the above statements and comments are correct if we are discussing the typical American lower fat higher carb diet, but as we all know, that is no where near a healthy diet nor is anyone around these parts (Or anyone mentioned in the above statements) recommending it.

As we saw in the AGE article, the comment was that the article proved that starch based diets (like the one recommended here) created more AGEs and are dangerous. Yet, when we read the article, we saw this was not true at all. And in fact, starches create less AGEs than many fruits do. The real problem in the study was the high intake of honey and "excessive" fruit. Also realize that the study did not show that these higher amounts in the vegetarian group was enough to create any long term health problem. So, it is a misleading and misrepresentation of the data.

So, without providing the actual evidence of harm of a diet like this, those statements are inappropriate at best.

That is the issue.

So, I encourage you.... post any published evidence that you can that a program like this is harmful and/or dangerous so we can openly discuss it as we have done in the fat, oil, dairy, meat, nuts AGE, acrylamide, etc etc threads :)

But hearsay and anecdotal stories are inadmissible in this court! :)

In Health
Jeff
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Postby Suebee » Thu May 29, 2008 5:27 am

Thanks Jeff--by the way your erudite, lucid comments have won me over! I'm convinced starches are the healthiest way to base a diet. Any ideas what I could do at this conference I foolishly signed up for? Or should I just not worry for the five days we'll be there? Still--I don't want to fill up on nothing but low-calorie vegetables and fruits and lots of nuts to keep hunger away! Why this anti-grains and starchy vegetables is beyond me! It sounds like a hang-over from natural hygiene philosophy. (I don't know if he ever was in that movement). Keep encouraging us Jeff--we love you!
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