The World's Healthiest Foods are health-promoting foods that can change your life.

Try the exciting new recipe from Day 4 of our upcoming 7-Day Meal Plan.

The George Mateljan Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or
advertising. Our mission is to help you eat and cook the healthiest way for optimal health.
Is there a certain level of daily nut and seed consumption that you recommend?

Many public health organizations—including the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic—recommend daily intake of nuts as part of an overall healthy diet. We're in full agreement with this recommendation for daily intake of nuts. Research findings in large-scale studies like the Adventist Health Study, the Iowa Women's Health Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and the Physician's Health Study all show that the risk of coronary heart disease decreases as the frequency of nut intake increases. Persons who consume nuts once per week have a lower risk than persons who consume nuts just once per month, and persons who consume nuts at least 5 times per week have an even lower risk. We think that's good reason for a recommendation of daily nut intake.

According to a health claim for nuts first established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003, scientific evidence suggests that eating 1.5 ounces (42 grams) per day of most nuts (as part of an overall healthy diet) may be able to reduce risk of heart disease. We like this average recommended amount of 1.5 ounces (about 3 tablespoons). A tablespoon or two of nuts is plenty for making a real difference in the taste, texture, and nourishment of a vegetable dish or fruit treat!

Where we differ from the FDA, however, is in our definition of what counts as a nut, and whether seeds should be included alongside of nuts in this general health recommendation. The FDA only includes a very select list of nuts in its recommendation: almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts. However, from a science perspective, these seven nuts don't really have much in common. Only one of the nuts (hazelnuts) is a true nut in the technical sense. Almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are technically called drupes (fleshy fruits that contain seeds), pine nuts are simple seeds (specifically, gymnosperm seeds), and peanuts are legume seeds falling into yet another category of seed (called angiosperm seeds).

Given such a mixed list, we think it makes sense to broaden any recommendation to include most nuts and seeds, including the 4 nuts and 4 seeds belonging to our WHFoods Nuts, Seeds & Oils food group: almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. Any combination of these nuts and seeds adding up to 3 tablespoons per day (1.5 ounces, or 42 grams) is a step we recommend for obtaining the special health benefits provided by nuts and seeds.

One factor that has been especially important in public health recommendations for nut intake has been the limited amount of saturated fat found in many nuts. When it first authorized a health claim for nuts in 2003, the FDA actually set a limit on the amount of saturated fat that a nut could contain and still qualify for a health claim. That level was 4 grams of saturated fat per 50 grams of nuts. As you can see below, all but one (pumpkin seeds) of the WHFoods nuts and seeds meet this FDA standard for saturated fat.

WHFoods Nuts and SeedsSaturated Fat Per 50 grams
Almonds (raw)2
Cashews (raw)3.9
Peanuts (raw)3.5
Flaxseeds (raw)1.8
Pumpkin seeds (raw)4.3
Sesame seeds (raw)3.5
Sunflower seeds (raw)2.2

Even though pumpkin seeds are about 7-8% higher in saturated fat than the FDA's maximum amount, we believe that their very good content of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus—as well as their good content of protein, iron and zinc—make them an equally good choice for your daily nut and seed intake, provided that you keep your overall saturated fat intake for the day at a healthy level. If you're eating between 1,800 -2,000 calories per day, approximately 14-15 grams of saturated fat would be a reasonable daily amount.

One important final note: all of our nutrient analyses in the recommendations above are based on raw nuts and seeds. We realize that many people prefer to consume these foods in roasted form, and we believe that roasting can be just fine provided that it's carried out at a low temperature (always under 170F, or about 76C), and that it's dry roasting (not involving the use of any additional oils). Also important if roasting nuts and seeds is avoidance of added salt.

Printer friendly version

Send this page to a friend...

rss


Newsletter SignUp

Your Email:

Find Out What Foods You Should Eat This Week

Also find out about the recipe, nutrient and hot topic of the week on our home page.

 

Everything you want to know about healthy eating and cooking from our new book.
2nd Edition
Order this Incredible 2nd Edition at the same low price of $39.95 and also get 2 FREE gifts valued at $51.95. Read more


Healthy Eating
Healthy Cooking
Nutrients from Food
Website Articles
Community
Privacy Policy and Visitor Agreement
References
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.

We're Number 1
in the World!

35 million visitors per year.
The World's Healthiest Foods website is a leading source of information and expert on the Healthiest Way of Eating and Cooking. It's one of the most visited website on the internet when it comes to "Healthiest Foods" and "Healthiest Recipes" and comes up #1 on a Google search for these phrases.

Over 100 Quick &
Easy Recipes

Our Recipe Assistant will help you find the recipe that suits your personal needs. The majority of recipes we offer can be both prepared and cooked in 20 minutes or less from start to finish; a whole meal can be prepared in 30 minutes. A number of them can also be prepared ahead of time and enjoyed later.

World's Healthiest
Foods
is expanded

What's in our new book:
  • 180 more pages
  • Smart Menu
  • Nutrient-Rich Cooking
  • 300 New Recipes
  • New Nutrient Articles and Profiles
  • New Photos and Design
privacy policy and visitor agreement | who we are | site map | what's new
For education only, consult a healthcare practitioner for any health problems.
© 2001-2017 The George Mateljan Foundation, All Rights Reserved