Published on June 5th, 2014 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles
Consuming Fruits and Nuts on the Paleo Diet
by Terry Shanahan
The Great Thing about Fruit and Nuts
Fruit and nuts are great because they are both tasty and portable. This makes them a great Paleo snack food. If you are traveling, or if need a small snack to boost your energy before a workout, or want to add some flavor to a meal, then fruits and nuts can be great additions. However, consider some important caveats as you prepare to use fruit and nuts in your diet.
The Problem with Fruit and Nuts
Fruits are very high in sugar, especially fructose sugar which is processed by the liver into liver glycogen. Too much fructose consumption can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and belly fat. There is suspicion and likelihood that all the high fructose corn syrup that people consume as soda, candy, and other sweetened items is a major cause of obesity in our population today. Look HERE for more information on sugar.
A healthier source of carbohydrates on the Paleo Diet are root vegetables like sweet potatoes because these have more glucose in them than fruits do and glucose is processed into muscle glycogen which will be used when you work out. Another great feature of glucose is that it is easier on the liver because it does not have to be processed by the liver in the same way that fructose does.
The problem with nuts is that they are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and phytic acid. In larger quantities these can lead to inflammation and poor nutrient absorption, respectively. In the tips below we discuss how fruit and nuts can be used best in the Paleo diet. The key is to maximize the benefits you gain from these delicious foods while minimizing the costs and risks through quantity and quality control of their consumption.
Guidelines for Healthy Fruit and Nut Intake
- For pre or post workout carb sources look first to root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, rutabagas, turnips, or parsnips because the glucose to fructose ratio is higher in these foods. The glucose is what you are after to help replace muscle glycogen.
- If you eat dried fruit then 1) be careful to just have small portions because there is so much sugar per ounce of dried fruit that you can end up with a very high blood sugar without eating very much, and 2) aim to purchase un-sulfured dried fruits if you are someone who cannot tolerate sulfur in the fruit as a preservative. You will know if the fruit has been preserved with sulfur because it will say “sulfur dioxide (preservative)” on the label. Asthma, hives, and rashes are a typical symptom for people who are not tolerant of sulfur dioxide in their food.
- Aim for smaller fruits that are strongly colored like blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates, strawberries, goji berries, acai berries, and blackberries because these are lower in sugar and the bright colors in them are produced by healthy phytochemicals that can be preventative of cancer. An example is the ellagic acid in raspberries and cranberries.
- When you consume larger fruits consider this: Pears and granny smith apples often have less sugar than other large fruits so these selections are better for controlling your sugar intake.
- When you eat fruits if you eat them along with some fat and protein it will help to control your blood sugar because it will take longer for the fruit to get from your stomach and into your intestine where the sugars will be absorbed.
- Use cinnamon for blood sugar control: Some naturopathic doctors will have their patients eat apples along with a small amount of cinnamon because the cinnamon creates a gel-like substance that helps to hold onto much of the sugar in fruit. Granny smith apples with cinnamon taste great!
- Never have nuts as your primary protein or fat source for meals. Nuts are so high in Omega-6 essential fatty acids relative to Omega-3s that they are an inflammation contributor. Nuts are also high in phytatic acid which could keep you from digesting the protein and minerals well. However, nuts are fine as a food that is adding some protein and fat as a little part of a balanced meal. For instance, almonds make a great topping for salads or as an ingredient in stir-fries. Aim for meats, eggs, and avocados as protein sources with better fat ratios and less phytic acid than nuts.
- Make sure to properly prepared nuts by soaking them for about 12 hours and then draining them to get rid of some of the phytate. After this then put them in the refrigerator to keep them from going bad. They can also be dried in a food dehydrator to get them back to their crunchy, lightweight form.
- Avoid nuts that are roasted in oil. The roasting process turns the oils in the nuts into free radicals. Free radicals damage our cells. Aim to get raw nuts and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer to keep the oils in them fresh.
- Remember that Peanuts are not a true nut. Peanuts are in the bean family and a very allergenic. Peanuts are also known to be contaminated with aflatoxin. Aflatoxins are made by mold and are a potent liver poison that can cause cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. Staying away from peanuts is best for long-term health.
- Macadamia nuts have the best fat profile of all the nuts. Unfortunately most of the macadamias available are roasted and very expensive. Walnuts and almonds are popular, affordable Paleo foods. Brazil nuts are high in selenium and many people find them tasty.
Fruit and Nuts in Perspective
It is great to have a variety of healthy foods on the Paleo diet. Many foods such as high quality meats and fats are not quantity-limited on the Paleo diet while other foods are quantity-limited because too many of them can be a bad thing. Examples of foods to watch the quantities of are carbs, especially from fruit, and nuts.
Save the fruit consumption for traveling and for times around workouts. Use unroasted, pre-soaked and dried nuts as a travel, occasional snacks, or as a minor source of protein and fat in some meals like salads or stir-fries. For the most part Paleo diet is about the kinds of foods that we eat or don’t eat and we generally don’t keep track of the amounts that we eat. Fruit and nuts are an exception because too many of them can spike your blood sugar and burden your liver as in fruit, or increase your Omega-6 fatty acid consumption and add unnecessary phytic acid to your diet as in nuts.
For 12 tips on overcoming your SUGAR CRAVINGS, click HERE.
For more information on how to start a PALEO DIET, click HERE.
Disclaimer: We are not doctors and the information in this blog should not be construed as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease.
Terry Shanahan is a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist student, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor, Certified CrossFit Coach, Entrepreneur, Paleo Nutrition advocate & coach. He has a passion for wellness, performance, & personal development. Follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, & YouTube. Check out his website at www.theshanahanplan.com.