Primal Diet Nuts – Brains have taken a surprising amount of flak lately. Most nuts are high in PUFA, and most of that PUFA is omega-6 linoleic acid, the same one we try to avoid from seed oils. Linoleic acid oxidizes easily, accumulates in our tissues and sets up our inflammatory response, is too volatile for cooking, usually unsanitary on the shelf, and public hysteria about government farm subsidies and animal fat. Thanks to it, it is everywhere today. We early types generally avoid this for good reason, and it affects how we perceive the O6 content of nuts.
Is there a place for nuts in the basic diet? Should we be concerned about nuts and omega-6 fats? Let’s take a closer look.
Primal Diet Nuts
A diet high in many nuts is therefore likely to alter the tissue omega-6 to omega-3 ratio against inflammatory bodily processes… right? I mean, if you eat food fried in high O6 vegetable oil in a restaurant, it will be anti-inflammatory. If you eat cheap Chinese food fried in cheap, high-O6 soybean oil for lunch every day, you’ll expect a good amount of oxidized LDL on your next lipid test. And if you supplement your diet with a few teaspoons of unheated corn oil a day, there will be significant negative effects on your body (besides nausea and/or vomiting). How is the brain different?
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First, nuts aren’t just “bags of linoleic acid.” Nuts are a fairly complete source of nutrition. However, it is a tree seed, a type of arboreal egg. Inside is everything a tree needs to start growing from scratch – fats, carbohydrates, even protein, as well as natural antioxidants like vitamin E and loads of minerals.
Consider 160 calories of raw almonds, which contain 3.5 grams of omega-6 linoleic acid. What else do you get with these PUFAs?
Compare this to the 160-calorie value of soybean oil, which contains about 10 grams of linoleic acid. What else do you get with these PUFAs?
You don’t get any vitamins or minerals to help with your micronutrient status. You don’t get any vitamin E to protect the delicate omega-6 fat from breaking down. You get absolutely nothing.
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Although the omega-6 fats in the brain are bad at binding, the positive aspects of the brain seem to outweigh them. Consuming whole nuts appears to reduce markers of systemic inflammation, and inflammation is linked to many diseases and disorders (obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, excess cortisol, etc.) 1. Nuts go wrong without Think of them as complex food systems that contain different nutrients and other chemical components. In other words, nuts are food, not a nutrient.
If the high omega-6 content of nuts is such a problem, you’ll likely see a hint in the literature. Instead, most studies have only found benefits for nut consumption.
Problems arise with consistent year-round access to food whose historical availability has been seasonal and intermittent. If you’re a hunter-gatherer, you probably don’t gather nuts every day—at least, you don’t find enough nuts in the wild to eat eight ounces a day. Nuts are seasonal in nature. Perhaps the best example of a traditional hunter-gatherer population consuming significant amounts of nuts is the Hadza of Tanzania, who eat large quantities of munggo nuts only in season. They couldn’t go to the corner store for a bag of nuts out of season, nor could any human for most of our history.
However, nuts should never make up a large part of your diet. A quarter cup now and then as a snack won’t kill you. It doesn’t even compromise your progress. I mean, they’re crazy. They are not food and they are not meant to be. These snacks are the primary complement to an already nutritious diet high in animal fat, protein and vegetables. And in a diet like the Basic Blueprint that provides plenty of omega-3 to balance out the omega-6 through seafood, nuts certainly have a place.
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Just make sure you treat your nuts as a tasty treat, not the mainstay of a meal. Don’t burn your nuts, and don’t cook with oil. The safest option is to buy raw and soak or eat it yourself. In this way you control the temperature and you can moderate the oxidation.
Overanalyzing your food intake is a great way to stress yourself out and internalize every little dietary choice. Avoid falling into this trap. Be careful with your food choices, but pick your battles wisely. Making sure you ask the waiter to cook the omelette in butter instead of vegetable oil is worth the trouble. Emphasis on the omega-6 content of twenty ounces in front of you is not definitive.
Want to weigh in with your thoughts on the brain? I know many forum members have reservations about them, so I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, a pioneer in the early food and lifestyle movement, and
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, where he discusses how to combine a keto diet with a lean lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of many other books, including
, which in 2009 was credited with turbocharging the growth of primary/paleo-mobility. After three decades of researching and educating people about why diet is key to achieving and maintaining optimal health, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real food company. Which makes Primal/paleo, keto and Whole30 friendly kitchen staples. Below is one of Mark Sisson’s early drawings. This is a great resource and guide to use if you are participating in The Alliance Nutrition Challenge based on Mark’s 21 Day Reset.
Recommended Macronutrient Intake Levels: The Basic Blueprint recommends a very varied diet based on personal preferences within the guidelines of the Blueprint Food Pyramid above. Animal foods (meat, fish, poultry and eggs) make up the majority of calories in the diet. Vegetables are recommended in abundance, which have a lot of weight on your plate. Healthy fats (macadamia nuts, coconut products, avocados, olive oil) are another special category. The moderate category includes other nuts, seeds and nut butters, seasonal fruits, high-fat dairy products and additional carbohydrates in the form of starchy tubers, quinoa and wild rice to burn more calories.
Following a basic eating strategy should lead you to an optimal intake of protein, carbohydrates and fat to support health, high performance, longevity and effortless maintenance of ideal body composition. This includes plenty of room for daily and seasonal variation in macronutrient and total calorie intake. Those new to basic diets or interested in a methodical approach to shedding excess body fat may want to accurately calculate their macronutrient intake from time to time, using online resources such as FitDay.com to determine if their macronutrient ratios are at their optimum levels.
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Using an online macronutrient calculator, first write down all the food and drink you eat for at least a couple of days and maybe up to a week, and record the amount, weight or volume as accurately as possible. Measuring cups, teaspoons/spoon tools and ounce scales are recommended. Recorded data can then be entered into an online calculator to show total calories, a breakdown of each macronutrient in handy pie chart form, and even a breakdown of each individual food or meal consumed. Especially with the goal of moderating your carbohydrate intake according to the Basic Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve guidelines, it can be very clear to see how the grams of dietary carbohydrates stack up throughout the day. Below are basic blueprint recommendations for protein, carbohydrate and fat intake.
: Start calculating macronutrient intake with protein requirements, as adequate protein intake is essential to maintaining healthy metabolic function and lean muscle mass. The Basic Blueprint recommends getting an average of about 0.5 grams of protein per pound (1.1 grams per kilogram) of body weight per day. The original blueprint position should conform to the widely recommended limit of 0.5 grams (1.1 grams/kg) to meet the basic requirements, up to 0.7 grams per pound of line mass (1.66 grams/kg). Moderately active, up to one gram per pound (2.2 grams per kilogram) for active exercisers. Now, a growing body of research suggests that we may be overestimating our protein needs to our detriment. Dr. Ron Rosedale, a leading voice on excess protein concerns, suggests that 5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient for everyone. He believes that even people with high protein needs (very active, growing teenagers and pregnant women) must add 5-10 grams per day to ensure optimal protein intake.
Lean body weight can be calculated by subtracting fat weight from total body weight. You can multiply your body fat percentage (measured in different ways) by your total body weight to determine your body fat mass. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds and has 10 percent body fat has a 15.
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