Nuts are delicious and nutritious snacks that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. They are packed with nutrients like healthy fats, fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for good health.
However, much like most other foods, nuts must be eaten in moderation.
Speaking to South First, Dr Deepak Krishnamurthy, a senior interventional cardiologist at Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru, said: “Nuts are recommended for heart health. Almonds and walnuts are good. Even groundnuts, though technically legumes and not nuts, are okay to be consumed.”
“However, they do add calories so one needs to be careful with portions,” he added.
How many nuts can we eat in a day?
Experts say that the answer depends on the type of nut, the individual’s age, weight, activity level, and their overall dietary needs.
As a general rule, a handful of nuts per day is considered a healthy portion for adults. This amount approximately provides about 160-200 calories, depending on the nut.
However, Dr Krishnamurthy recommends “four to six servings of nuts per week — each serving is about 1.5 ounces or 40 gm or a handful”.
Here’s a breakdown of some popular nuts and the recommended daily serving sizes for adults:
- Almonds: About 8-10
- Cashew nuts: About 6-8
- Walnuts: About 6
- Pistachio: About 8-10
“It’s important to note that nuts are calorie-dense, so it’s essential to keep portion sizes in check to avoid overconsumption. Eating too many nuts can lead to weight gain, digestive issues, and other health problems,” Shweta Adarsh, a nutritionist, told South First.
Adding to the benefits of eating nuts, Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist at Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, says that walnuts are considered healthy for the brain, as they improve memory and other cognitive functions.
“They lower the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, thereby lowering the risk of dementia. This is because walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, which reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (the two key drivers of cognitive decline),” he says.
He adds that walnuts are a good source of Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine) as well.
How many nuts can children eat per day?
Unlike adults, the recommended serving size for children will be smaller and it’s important to consider any allergies or intolerances they may have. It’s best to consult with a paediatrician or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate serving size for children.
Dr Naveen Benakappa, a paediatrician at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, said, “For children, it is important to rule out any allergy to nuts. While introducing nuts to younger children, one type of nut should be introduced at a time. Also, if the child is under five years of age, it’s important to grind the nut to prevent choking. And it should not be offered with any new foods.”
Children can eat about 15 nuts per week, Dr Benakappa told South First.
Who can’t eat nuts?
Some people are allergic to nuts and may experience an allergic reaction when consuming them. Nut allergies can be severe and even a tiny amount can trigger a reaction.
Common symptoms of a nut allergy include hives, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock. If you have a nut allergy, it’s essential to avoid all types of nuts and nut-containing products.
In addition, some people may have difficulty digesting nuts due to conditions like diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In these cases, it’s best to avoid nuts or consume them in small amounts and see how they affect your symptoms.