Home Contact RSS Feed About Me Latest Content

Are nuts okay on the vegan diet?


Dr. Esselstyn essentially says no nuts for vegans; he's very leery.

Dr. Campbell has nuts on his approved list. "The China Study" omits peanuts.

As a very new Vegan, what's with nuts?

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."

Dr. Campbell promotes eating nuts (and seeds) in moderation. Here is what he says specifically about nuts:

"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 dissuades 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! :)


Comments for Are nuts okay on the vegan diet?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Excellent
by: Anonymous

Excellent handling of this question! I was confused as well and now with your concise answer feel much better informed and also have the option to explore further with the links provided.

Thank you very much for taking the time to thoroughly cover this topic.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Yes!
by: Sassy

You're most welcome. Thanks for letting me know that it has helped. Enjoy your day. :) xo

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Good discussion
by: Bob J.

This was very interesting, and puts the nuts/fat thing in a good perspective. There is a growing body of evidence that the relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease is not as strong as thought. In fact, after several decades of cholesterol-lowering drugs, heart disease has increased. When you factor in the damage caused by statin drugs, it begins to look like another money-grabbing effort by big pharmacy/big medicine.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Drugs
by: Sassy

Hi Bob!

Great to hear from you, and thanks for your response. Wanted to just make a comment about this...

"In fact, after several decades of cholesterol-lowering drugs, heart disease has increased."

Since most people on cholesterol-lowering drugs continue to eat a diet filled with animal products, I imagine that is the reason heart disease continues to increase. But that's just a guess. :)

Great point about the drugs. It always bowls me over to think of all the drugs that enter the "market" that haven't been thoroughly tested, as well! Sheesh.

Hugs!
Sass

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Yes!
by: Anonymous

I agree 100%! Too many people would rather put a "band aid" on something than actually take responsibility for their health and make changes to live healthier. Thanks for all you do!

Bob J.

Rating
starstarstar
nuts ARE vegan
by: tuttle

Seems to me the confusion exmplified by this question just points out how needlessly complicated some people are trying to make veganism. Of COURSE nuts are all right on a VEGAN diet: They are not an animal product. Period.

Whether they are a "healthy" part of a vegan diet is what the original questioner was really after. The answer supplied was great in that respect. But bottom line, the definition of veganism makes it clear itself.

I think a lot of people don't not-eat-meat because they get hung up on all the (optimal) qualifiers, the organic, fresh, whole, do-it-from-scratch, grow-your-own mindset. I'm all for it, but it just doesn't have to be that stringent.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
How to eat with the nuts and still lose weight?
by: Beth

Thank you for all the nut good news. What I would like to know is what was eaten in addition to the nuts in a vegan diet? What portion sizes? Does it matter if the 3 handfuls are eaten all at night, some put in puree vegetable sauce in addition for desert.... a waffle with 1/4 cup wheat bran, 1/4 buck wheat plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup of rolled oats. ... a handful of nuts, maybe some blueberries, 1/4 to 1/2 cup soy milk and water. ... I'd like to lose about 10 pounds. I can eat a whole bag of broccoli with carrot, celery puree... throw over the sauce lots of kale. (no meat at all... now eating, tvp, tempeh, seitan... 3 oz in one portion. I love plain wild rice... sometimes 1/4 - 1/2 cup for dinner. Am I o.k. here?
Thanks again, Beth

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Wonderful Page!
by: Anonymous

Like many others, I've long been confused about the good Doctors' (Esslestyn and Campbell) view of nut consumption. Thanks so much for taking the time to research, and summarize. The video is also excellent. (As I'm sure you know, an even more recent large study, Harvard and Indiana Universities, reconfirms the video's message. New England Journal of Medicine, Nov 2013.)

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Ideas for Beth
by: Sassy

Thanks for the reference to the new studies. Awesome. :)

And Beth, my darling, I would say you are eating an amazing diet! Mixing it up, hitting the food groups. In my weight loss course I recommend eating no more than 2 servings of fruit/day for weight loss (a serving is 1/2 cup or a piece of medium fruit). Concentrate on beans and dark green leafies. Eat whole grains, but cut down on those you eat later in the day; they're so jam-packed with energy and we just really don't need that much energy as our day winds down.

Hugs!
Sass

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
heart desease
by: Anonymous

According to Dr. Eselstnye(miss spelled) because of the American Diet, everyone at a mature age of 20, has heart desease, autopsy's of war deceased young men heart desease was found. Fat is fat, even avacado's are 14%saturated fat. Those of us that prior to having a heart attack, exercised, fish, chicken basic supplements, etc. After becoming a follower of Dr. Eselstnyes program, cholesterol 115, average 110/72, no colds, no sickness of anykind over past 4 years, but is extremely difficult when I see your receipts (drooling) and cannot use them.Coming to light the substitutes for cheese, meat, etc are coming under a lot of fire,processed

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Nuts and Flaxseed
by: Bernard

Wow, Sass, your timing is excellent! I've been wrestling with the nuts/flaxseed dilemma for the past thirty days with no clear resolution. On the one hand, Dr. McDougall states that nuts should be reserved for "special occasions." Dr. Greger says that eating nuts actually lowers overall cholesterol as well as bad cholesterol while raising good. And that nuts are excellent for a good Omega 3 to 6 balance and that eating handfuls a day does a body good. After eating the McDougall Diet for 4 months, my cholesterol level went from 172 to 146. At this point I'm very hesitant to do anything which would put my cholesterol level back over 150. So for myself, this was an excellent topic to bring up at this time. Thanks, Sass. What a great web site you have! You cover all of the bases!

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Peanut story in "The China Study"
by: Anonymous

Just a quick comment re: the peanut story in the China Study. The author was not against eating peanuts, he was against peanut butter as it is often made with old mouldy peanuts and it is this mould that is carcinogenic and was found to be problematic in his studies. The author is pro any plant foods including nuts. :)

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Yaaaaaa nuts,
by: Zumbachick

I'm not a vegan or even a vegetarian but I'm a very healthy eater whose diet consist (95%) of veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. So glad I can keep nuts in my diet. Walnuts each morning in my fruit salad along with pumpkin seeds and chia gel...yum. Love almond, pecans, and many more. Thanks for so much useful info.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Nuts to you.
by: Noel Victor Comley

I pay extra and buy nuts in small packets. That's my method of portion control.

Rating
starstarstarstar
Nuts and Weight Gain
by: Anonymous

The thing with nuts and weight gain (or lack thereof) is that calorimeters, which are used to measure the calorific value of foods, are furnaces and our digestive system is a chemical factory. We just don't digest whole nuts fully enough to get all the calories out of them.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Yes to Nuts
by: Anonymous

I follow Dr. Joel Fuhrman's "The End of Diabetes" diet and he does advocate nuts. I have added nuts into my diet for over a year now and my LDL and HDL numbers are perfect, as is my cholesterol. I am also losing weight and feel great.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
portion control is essential for me with nuts
by: Carol

Really good discussion. I love nuts-all nuts, I'd rather have nuts than any sweet food or for that matter most other foods. I keep remembering Dr McDougall's reminder about nuts coming in hard to get at forms like shells. Now we just get them by the bag full without spending excess energy. I for one have to be really careful since I overdo nuts easily. This sounds like addiction as I write it. And addiction has to be given up.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
A Fan of SCIENCE on this topic
by: Andrea

This is super helpful/love those nutritionfacts videos/research analysis for SO many topics. I had been confused too.. and have been eating plenty of nuts for a while now.. without experiencing weight gain. Though, I do tend to eat them mindlessly.. I am trying to be more mindful - though, it seems they have not affected my weight much.
Thanks much for taking on this question, Sassy.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Nuts & Fat
by: Anonymous

Dr. Gregor recommends 30 grams of flax seeds every day which I have followed for a year. It is on his daily dozen. He also recommends 30 grams of walnuts a day which I have eaten for a year every day. Am I eating to much fat every day?

Rating
starstarstarstar
NUTS
by: Bruce

I think everything in moderation. I think peanuts are very oily so I usually only do peanut butter. The rest are good just not lots. I would be more worried about over salted nuts, not really good for you.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
9 year old son can't gain weight on nuts
by: Anonymous

Hi Sassy

Thanks so much for this information. I just watched the last bit of video to get the info about weight gain. I'll go back to watch the rest when have more time. This news is a bummer for me and explains why I am struggling so much help my 9 year old son Oli gain weight. He's skinny, and recently got sick with a virus and lost 3kg that he really couldn't afford to lose.

I have been feeding Oli up on apple crumble and cookies that are loaded with the good nuts like cashews and macadamias, but his weight still remains the same. So my practical experience proves the point that can't gain weight on nuts. Oli has been vegan since birth. Any suggestions would be very gratefully received. Thank you xo

love Cass xoxxoxo

Rating
star
nutz
by: Anna

Isn't the peanut actually a legume?

Raw, organic, unsalted, & fresh (ie not rancid) nuts are a valuable part of my diet.

I make cashew cream (dates, cashews & water blended together) for my morning espresso... the weeks I forgo this delight & drink my coffee black I lose the little extra chub on my hips. :)

🌸

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Nuts Are Great
by: Equa Yona

I am glad you included the video by Dr. Greger. He encourages an ounce of nuts a day. As far as anyone discouraging peanut consumption, Dr Greger is clear that research shows peanuts being as beneficial as most tree nuts. If one is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, they generally know by the time they're adults and don't need to be advised not to eat them.

Rating
starstarstarstarstar
varied reactions to nuts?
by: Carol Moss

Maybe different people react in different ways to nuts, for instance maybe some will experience weight gain and others not. Maybe some will get high cholesterol and others not.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Vegan Nutrition Q&A.