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  • What is the best nut?

    Q. Hey Gale, I’m an endurance athlete following the Fat Burning Machine diet guidelines. In the book you recommend using nuts as snacks, what is the best nut? My friend insists that I shouldn’t eat anything but almonds, can you give your opinion? D.S.

    A. Excellent timing, D.S. I am in the process of teaching a 9-week course to help a variety of people (endurance athletes and non-endurance junkies alike) teach their bodies to burn fat for fuel. In the past couple of weeks we’ve taken a good look at nuts.

    I’m going to include two charts in this column. The first chart looks at the macro and micro nutrients in a 1-ounce serving of each nut. I think it is easier to compare nuts by weight rather than volume because I think it is more consistent. For example attempting to measure ¼-cup of Brazil nuts is more difficult than measuring out ¼-cup of pistachios. On the chart you will see that I red-highlighted the highest value for each nutrient row. Notice that there isn’t one nut that is the clear “winner.” Each nut has good qualities.

    Though peanuts aren’t technically a nut (they are a legume), I included them on the chart because most people treat them as a nut. There is back and forth discussion about peanuts and whether or not you should completely avoid them. At this point, as long as you don’t have a peanut allergy, I don’t see that they are a “dangerous” food that should be avoided.

    I also included dry-roasted values for both peanuts and cashews, rather than raw like the other nuts, because very few people consume raw peanuts and cashews.

    The second chart I below is also for a 1-ounce serving and it compares the same nuts. This chart includes a column for the percentage of calories in the various nuts that comes from fat. The nuts with the greatest percentage of fat are Brazil, macadamias and pecans. The nut with the lowest level of omega 6 fatty acids and the best omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is the macadamia nut. (More on omega 6 and omega 3 later.)

    Cashews have the highest grams of carbohydrate per 1-ounce serving, which can be an advantage.

    Now, back to your question. Which nut is best? The answer depends on how you measure “best.” The short answer is that there is a good reason to eat each nut – so a variety is good. You can either make your own mixed nut combination by purchasing nuts in bulk or you can just rotate the nuts you eat on a weekly or monthly basis. 

    If you want to look at nutrition details yourself, the data at nutritiondata.self.com is more manageable than looking at the USDA database.

    Note: You can enlarge the images by clicking on them.

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