Presently, there is a war going on in the vegetarian community over nuts. Some doctors, such as McDougall and Esselstyn, are adamantly opposed to nuts. And other doctors, such as Fuhrman and Greger, are in favor of nuts. The attacks have been coming from the anti-nut side on various blogs and forums.
I stand staunchly on the side of Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Michael Greger, except that I’m not as polite as they are. I say that it is INSANE to demonize nuts. The only thing more insane is to demonize air or water.
We are born into the world and the first food we experience is our mother’s milk. It may be our entire diet- or close to it- for the first two years of life. And it has got over 50% of its calories from fat. So, we are conditioned from birth to a creamy taste.
Australian researchers discovered in 2009 that humans have very sensitive fat-detectors on their tongues. Those particular taste buds enable us to determine whether fat is present and how much. And even when the researchers tried to deceive the subjects by creating look-alike foods that were expected to have fat but didn’t, and where they duplicated the creamy texture but without actually including fat, the subjects could easily tell the difference. Our drive to consume fat is every bit as powerful as our drive to consume sugar.
Once weaning occurs, a human toddler gains access to the whole wide world of natural foods, and there are plenty that are teeming with fat. There are fatty nuts, which include all the nuts except for a rare few, such as chestnuts. There are fatty seeds, such as sesame, sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, and more. There are fatty fruits like avocado, olive, durian, and others. There are fatty legumes like peanut, soy, cocoa, and more. And there are even a few fatty vegetables such as artichokes. And obviously, if animal foods are consumed, they are teeming with fat as animals do not store calories as carbohydrate to any great extent. Animals store food calories as fat. So, fats are ubiquitous in Nature, and the human drive to eat fats is universal and deeply rooted in our genes. Instead of condemning fats, wouldn’t it better to separate the good ones from the bad ones, and to eat the former and eschew the latter?
The ironic thing is that the fat-o-phobes ridicule the carb-o-phobes for condemning carbs, but it is just as extreme and unnecessary to condemn fats as it is to condemn carbs.
And raw nuts are among the very best of fats. Nuts are highly nutritious. Nut oils have been found to be thermogenic (fat-burning) cardio-protective, and to have protective antioxidant effects. Nuts are extremely satiating, where they satisfy hunger for many hours while supporting good energy throughout the day. Nuts have a much better mineral component than do grains, including whole grains. Compare the calcium and magnesium content of almonds to brown rice. There is no comparison.
I have eaten nuts every day for the last 40 years, and I have maintained the same lean, solid build that I had 40 years ago. If they were going to make me fat, don’t you think they would have done so by now? And I have every intention of continuing to eat nuts every day for the next 40 years.