Tuesday, January 28, 2014

confused about nuts

For about 1.5 years, I cut back on my fat intake, following the recommendations of Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn in their most strict programs (Maximum Weight Loss or MWL for McDougall, and "plant-perfect" for Esselstyn, or the Captain's plan for Engine 2).   The tradeoff with cutting out the nuts is that I got to eat more starches:  potatoes, sweet potatoes, and grains.  That seemed like a good deal to me.  When you eat no nuts, avocados, coconut, oils, meat, soy, your fat percentage goes down to about 7%.  Mine did anyway---except when I went off plan, which was more than I would have liked, haha.  Well, my nails and hair don't seem as healthy anymore, so for about the last month I started back with some nuts and seeds, just an ounce a day.  Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating the following nuts: walnuts, pistachios, and almonds; and the following seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame, chia and flax.  So I bought them all and mixed them up and that's what I eat.  I think 1 oz of nuts overlaps with all the plant-based doctors' plans except for the more extreme versions mentioned above.  But I still get confused by a lot of the things they say.  I mean, do they really disagree about 1 oz of nuts?

Here are some of the anti-nut arguments: Jeff Novick points out numerous flaws in the nut studies, which I agree with. Here's an excerpt from one of his talks pointing out some of those flaws.  But he also said an ounce of nuts won't hurt you in one of his nuts DVDs. Then here's a quote from Dr. Esselstyn's Facebook page a few days ago:
My preference is no nuts for heart disease patients. That also eliminates peanuts and peanut butter even though peanuts are officially a legume. For those with established heart disease to add more saturated fat that is in nuts 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. No nuts for heart disease patients, includes peanuts and peanut butter, even though peanuts are officially a legume.
Am I a heart disease patient?  No, but all these guys say that everyone who eats the Standard American diet has heart disease, so I don't know, maybe I do have it since I sometimes go off plan and eat SAD food. And the coaches at E2X recommend no nuts when you are trying to lose weight.  Same with McDougall's MWL program.  And Chef AJ lost all her weight when she gave up nuts. And Jeff Novick talks about calorie density and satiation and says potatoes are more satiating than nuts.  So that all leads me to think I shouldn't eat nuts while trying to lose weight and I'll be more satiated if I eat the starches instead of the nuts (I want to lose 10 lbs).   Jeff Novick argues that nuts aren't nutrient dense, they are fat dense.  It's easy to see that in a calorie counting program like cronometer.   You get more nutrients from (lots of) leafy green vegetables, and that includes omega-3 fats and vitamin E.

Fuhrman cites the nut studies which doesn't convince me since the other guys point out the flaws in them, and the nut studies are funded by the nut industry.  But he also cites his experience with patients which does carry weight for me.  Plus I have the study on myself.  I need a few more months to see what the results are--it takes a while to grow new nails.  But I am finding myself satiated by nuts and I enjoy eating nuts with my fruit more than oats. 1 oz of nuts/seeds per day raises my fat percentage to about 15%.  I recall Jeff Novick stating (somewhere) that our ancestors probably ate about 15% fat because they ate a little meat.  The nuts/seeds are similar to meat in their fat content.  Maybe that's a good and healthy thing.  Dr. Barnard recommends almonds for vitamin E which is good for alzeimer's prevention.  I noticed that sunflower seeds are also high in vitamin E.   But again, you can get it from leafy green vegetables.  But it seems to me it's good to have a mixture.  It's more enjoyable too.  And even though our ancestors maybe didn't have access to a daily dose of a variety of nuts, it doesn't mean you shouldn't take advantage of them if they are available to you.  And following the advice of Dr. Campbell in his book "Whole", nuts and seeds might have a symphony of things that work for your body.  Heck if I know.

It seems nitpicky to argue about 1 oz of nuts/seeds.  I don't know why I get hung up on this.  I guess i just want someone to tell me what the best way to eat is and these guys are telling me slightly different things and they also seem to dislike each other which is kind of depressing.  This probably just shows that I am being way too neurotic.  So I should probably just ignore them all and do a study on myself.  Here was today's breakfast by the way:  pear, blueberries, mixed nuts and seeds:
I had this with oats instead a few days ago because I ran out of nuts.  It wasn't as good.  Now I didn't cook the oats.  I do like oatmeal--but it always needs something to make it taste good, it's bland all by itself and that's not true of nuts.  But this brings me to my next issue which is that I seem to prefer lower glycemic foods. I'm just going by how I feel, not but any studies or measuring my blood sugar (no thanks), because of course those guys argue about that too and McDougall and Novick say it's meaningless.  For me, potatoes don't bother me but sweet potatoes by themselves and over-cooked oatmeal and brown rice kind of bother me, make me feel a little bla.  But sweet potatoes mixed with a meal are fine and delicious, so I'm not giving them up anytime soon.  But I feel better with beets, rutabaga and lots of beans.  beans and veggies.  which sounds like the Fuhrman plan.  Then there are the leeways.  Engine 2 and McDougall are more lenient about salt and sugar and breads and I don't do well with that leniency.  Well, I am just going to do my study of one and see what works best for me.   time to stop rambling and go to bed....

9 comments:

Ines said...

I feel you with the nut confusion. Keep us posted on how your study of one progresses though.
About the oats: If I was to eat uncooked oats with fruit, I would probably toast them first. But since that'd be about as much work as cooking them, I'd just make oatmeal...

Anonymous said...

Just fyi, Chef AJ in an excellent (and adult, civil) conversation with Dr. Fuhrman on the Eat to Live forum, said she stopped eating nuts because of her food addition but still eats seeds, which do not trigger overeating for her.

kneecap said...

thanks for your comments. Good idea about toasting oats. And interesting to hear about Chef AJ eating seeds.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to drop in and say that stopping by and noticing you were posting again was like Christmas in January. :)

kneecap said...

your comment is like Christmas for me! thanks!

Camille Thomson Paul said...

Hi,
I have been reading your blog and I too have been confused about the nuts. It drives me nuts, literally!
It seems like everyone is giving opposing advice. I buy all these cookbooks, Happy Hervibore, Engine2 diet, Furhman eat to live ETC and they are all different. I started vegan about a year and a half ago and gained a lot of weight because I was just not compliant and I admit I ate too much vegan junk. So now I trying this again with more limitations. Do you drink nut milk? That is a difficult one for me to give up.
Anyway, sorry for the long comment. I just want you to know I love your blog! Thanks.

kneecap said...

Hi Camille, in response to your comment, I decided to post an update on my views of nuts. :)
http://veganbarbie.blogspot.com/2014/02/update-on-nuts-and-seeds.html
Regarding nut milk, I don't oppose it. I'm not a big fan of store-bought almond milk mainly because of the sodium, but there's really nothing wrong with it in modest quantities. The calorie content is very low (of the store bought stuff), so if you just have 1/2 cup, even 1 cup, it's only about 35 calories in fat which is pretty small overall. Soy milk is another option. You can get versions that have no other ingredient than soy beans which is nice. But it has about twice the calories of almond milk so just go easy on it. If you don't mind the sodium and love nut milks, you get the most bang for your calorie with almond milk. :)
ps, I ate too much vegan junk food last year too and I gained weight!

Camille Thomson Paul said...

Thanks Kneecap! I appreciate you answering my questions and the new post/update on nuts.
Occasionally I make my own almond milk but it is mostly to put a little on oatmeal, I can't eat it as is. I also add it to herbal tea. I know, strange.
I bought the Starch solution and I liked most of the recipes. The recipes seem to be a bit nut-intensive so I just made a few from that book that are less calorie dense.
It is refreshing to read a blog that is not full of ads. I am always searching for these personal blogs, like yours that seem more sincere.

Thanks again!

kneecap said...

I think it's fine to have some almond milk on oatmeal and in tea.
Thanks for your comments. I don't advertise ANYWHERE, so I do wonder how I get readers like you. :)