The Nuts and Bolts of Nut Consumption

Nisha Patel, MD, asks what the deal is with nuts. Are they really healthy for you?

I used to avoid eating nuts because I thought they were “just full of a bunch of fat and calories.”

In reality, nuts are a nutrient dense food that contain a higher proportion of unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical (phenolic compounds).

A study by Guasch-Ferre found that total nut consumption was inversely associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


Nuts are a nutrient dense food that contain a higher proportion of unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemical (phenolic compounds). Click To Tweet


This inverse association was seen in those who ate nuts more frequently, at least two servings or more per week. This risk was lowered especially so in those who ate nuts greater than five servings per week.

They defined one serving as 28 grams or approximately one ounce (estimated by the amount that fits into the palm of your hand). This particular study looked at consumption of peanuts, walnuts, tree nuts (including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios & walnuts) and peanut butter.

It did not matter what type of nut was eaten, the results were the same. However, the authors did not see any associations between peanut butter intake and cardiovascular disease risk.

In another study by Bes-Rastrollo et al, frequent nut consumption (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts) at least twice a week was associated with a reduced risk of weight gain. A serving size of nuts in this study was 50 grams (1.7 oz). This finding is contrary to popular belief that even modest nut consumption results in weight gain.

Both of these studies support modest nut consumption as an integral part of a healthful diet.

Obviously, don’t eat the whole container, but eating a handful a day is beneficial (if you are not allergic or intolerant).

Consider replacing a less healthful snack with a handful of nuts a day.

Personally, I add pecans or walnuts to my peanut butter toast every morning or to my oatmeal for an added crunch.

I want to add that of all of the nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid or Omega-3.



Gausch-Ferre et al. “Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease” J Am Coll Cardiol 2017 Nov 14;70(20):2519-2532.

Bes-Rastrollo et al. “Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study.” 2007 Jan;15(1):107-16. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.507.


Tweet this:

Earn CME credit:

This learning experience is powered by CMEfy - a platform that brings relevant CMEs to busy clinicians, at the right place and right time. Using short learning nudges, clinicians can reflect and unlock AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Uncovering Culinary Secrets

13 culinary medicine articles, released weekly. Written by a certified internal medicine physician, board-certified in culinary medicine & obesity medicine, whose focus is on prevention and treatment of chronic disease.

Susan J. Baumgaertel, MD FACP

Navigating Your Health (with Dr. Susan Baumgaertel)

Dr. Baumgaertel draws upon her 30 years of experience as a physician in primary care internal medicine, and uses her personal story-telling style to communicate with you as if you are sitting right across from her. Pull up a chair and enjoy.

Hope Seidel, MD

Hope Seidel, MD

Our children are an invitation to our growth, and their health depends on our willingness to heal ourselves.

Richa Mittal, MD

Richa Mittal MD

“I share tools to help people live a life in balance in order to have a life well-lived.”

Support A Platform that Celebrates Real Doctors

For just $10 a month, you can help keep this openly accessible site available to all & help us sposnor in more doctors.



Drop your email to get our 5 Tips for Branding as a Professional

I acknowledge that this site is not to be used for medical advice.

Play Video
Our Founder Answers Your BURNING Question


“Why should I become a member of SoMeDocs if I already have my own space online?”