As a very new vegan-whats with nuts? Peer reviewed scientific studies..
Bob Vining, Owen Sound, Ontario
Sassy Sez: Hi Bob! I can see why you're confused. Let's chat it up and see what conclusion we can come to. :)
Dr. Esselstyn treats heart disease patients and actually helps them to reverse their heart disease with a low-fat vegan diet. He doesn't exactly say "no nuts" to everyone. What he does say is:
"For those with established heart disease to add more saturated fat is inappropriate. For people with no heart disease who want to eat nuts and avocado and are able to achieve a cholesterol of 150 and LDL of 80 or under without cholesterol lowering drugs, some nuts and avocado are acceptable."
"Different plants offer different kinds of nutrients. The stuff that’s in the tubers and the roots, is really loaded with starch – like potatoes – because the plant is storing energy for the next generation. So, we need that kind of energy, we eat the roots. We can also get our energy from other forms of storage – I’m thinking of nuts and seeds. They are pretty high in fat, and that’s a form of energy, so some of that is just fine. And then, at the same time, the really big bang for the buck is to eat the part of the plant that’s colored – the green, the reds, yellows and stuff like that."
I imagine he disuades people from eating peanuts simply because they are a highly allergenic nuts -- many people are allergic or sensitive.
PCRM, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, recommends nuts and seeds as part of a balanced vegan diet. However, they recommend using nuts mixed in other dishes or used to make sauces (as I do here), rather than simply snacking on them since it could lead to eating too many (especially if you're not paying attention and snacking mindlessly). I imagine they would be fine with measuring out your nuts (such as 1/4 cup) before snacking so when they're gone, you're done with the snack. :)
Okay, so what about nuts and weight gain? Nuts might be a good fat for those of us without heart disease or high cholesterol, but don't nuts cause us to gain weight? How much is too much, in that regard?
Check out the video below by Dr. Greger who pretty much puts an end to the argument that nuts cause weight gain. The video is incredibly interesting, and I encourage you to watch it in its entirety (but for those who are in a rush, jump to 9:07 for the bottom line).
As he states: "The evidence is stronger than ever that the consumption of nuts does not lead to the weight gain one would expect."
In the end, I believe that nuts (and seeds) are an important addition to a healthy vegan diet for many people because they provide healthy fats in a whole food form. If you're overweight or have heart or high cholesterol challenges, then you may want to avoid them (and I encourage you to study the work of Drs. Esselstyn and McDougall). Otherwise, eat nuts in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced vegan diet.
I encourage you to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. And I absolutely welcome constructive feedback from anyone reading this! :)