Friday, July 24, 2009

Get Nuts

Cordain says Paleo is not a fat free diet. It is a bad fat free diet. Your body needs to have fat, but the good kind. Nuts have lots of monounsaturated fats which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. I think we would all agree those are good things. Even though nuts and seeds are an important part of the Paleo diet, they are high in fat. You do need to eat them in moderation. Cordain recommends that you limit your nut and seed consumption to four ounces per day. Trust me, that is a lot. One ounce of almonds is about twenty eight nuts. That would be one hundred twelve almonds in one day.

Branch Out
I am an almond nut. No pun intended. I also love cashews. I don't venture too far beyond those two when it comes to nuts and seeds. However, there is a great variety of nuts and seeds you can eat on Paleo to keep it interesting. (This list is on page 108 of Cordain's book.) When buying nuts make sure you buy raw, unsalted nuts. The only ingredient listed should be the nut or seed itself.
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios (unsalted)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
Omega 6 fats versus Omega 3 fats
It has been researched that eating too much omega 6 and too little omega 3 fats can increase your risk of developing breast, prostate, and colon cancers. (Cordain page 85). In all the information I have read, it says the ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fast is between 2 and 4 to 1. The typical American diet, however, is between 10 and 15 (or higher) to 1. Most nuts have a very high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 so that is a big reason to eat them in moderation. Walnuts and macadamia nuts have the best ratios (see ratio beside the name). When in doubt, grab some of those before almonds and cashews.
  • Walnuts 4.2
  • Macadamia nuts 6.3
  • Pecans 20.9
  • Pine nuts 31.6
  • Cashews 47.6
  • Pistachio 51.9
  • Hazel nut 90
  • Pumpkin seeds 114.4
  • Brazil nuts 377.9
  • Sunflower seeds 472.9
  • Almonds Extremely high, no detectable omega 3
Don't let those ratios freak you out. Still eat nuts, just mix them up and be aware of how much of them you are eating.

I Love Peanut Butter!
Too bad, so sad. The ugly truth is that peanuts are not actual nuts. They are a legume which are completely forbidden in the Paleo world. Sadly, this also eliminates another favorite standby of mine...peanut butter. Yes, even all natural, no sugar added peanut butter is off the Paleo regimen. However, there are some great substitutes that I have been hearing raves about on Paleo blogs. Sunbutter is a peanut butter substitutes made from sunflower seeds. Some Sunbutter is made with cane sugar, so look for the organic Sunbutter that is made only from sunflower seeds. You can also look for almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, etc. I have read coconut butter is to die for. All of these can be found at Whole Foods or from online vendors. I recently bought a sample four pack from Futters Nut Butter. I will let you know what I think.

What About Oil? Is Olive Oil the Best Thing?
We have all heard about how wonderful olive oil is and the heart health benefits it provides. Olive oil is good, but it isn't the best. Flaxseed oil is really your best choice. It has a very low omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Try rubbing different oils on your meats before cooking. Again, oils should be consumed in moderation just like the nuts and sees. Here are the best oils to use. Stay away from everything else.
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Mustard seed oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
Questions? Comments? Concerns? One week to go until the big start date!


  1. You gave me some good news and some bad news.

    The good, I think: I'm already eating walnuts, ground flaxseed, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.

    The bad: I guess I'll have to give up my peanut butter.

    So-so: I'm also eating pecans. Should I give them up?

  2. Jim -
    Pecans are fine. They are some of the best out there even though the omega 6/omega 3 ratio is higher than walnuts and macadamia nuts. As long as you aren't only eating pecans then I would keep eating them!

  3. Sunflower butter is really good and not too pricy at Whole Foods. Happy Substituting. :)

  4. Hi, great info about the nuts. Sorry to break it to you though but cashews are not paleo. I wish they were. They are toxic when raw.

  5. Jmorstein80@gmail.comAugust 28, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    Thanks for the info! So I realize that the amount of Omega 3 we get will help the ratio of omega 6:3. I know we want a 2:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. I already get about 1000mg of EPA and about another 500mg of other fish oils from supplements. I eat a lot of omega 3 filled fish on top of that. Does this mean that I can eat more nuts, or actually maintain my nut intake? I get all my fat from, almonds (most), almond butter, sunbutter, macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts and avocados. I have recently become a bit concerned that my ratio may be off, I am not sure how to figure it out. Can I have your opinion? Thank You!

  6. Jmorstein80-
    If you are concerned your ratio might be off, then I would try to focus on eating nuts that have the absolute lowest omega6/3 ratio. Cut back on the almonds and limit your almond butter. Try to replace that with macadamia nuts and walnuts since those have the best ratios. If you miss your almond butter, try some macadamia nut butter. I just discovered it last week and it is pretty tasty. I wouldn't worry too much about your ratio. It sounds like you are getting a pretty good mix. But, if you are worried and really want to cut back, cut back on the almonds. I wouldn't recommend eating more nuts than you are now unless you feel hungry all the time. Hope that helps!

  7. Don't forget coconut oil and macadamia nut oil!! Macadamia nut oil by Olivado is like dessert!! nom nom! :) Also, never cook with flaxseed oil & canola oil is bad news!!! is one article about canola oil and check out the Weston A Price Foundation for more info. :) Thanks for your blog!!