While there is good protein in nuts and seeds, they are made up mainly of fat. So the question becomes, "are they really an adequate source of protein"?
Most people believe that nuts and seeds are a "good" source of protein. Why wouldn't you? If you "google" nuts and seeds as protein sources, you'll find post after post declaring them to be so. But "good" doesn't mean "adequate". Let me explain.
The average person needs approximately 20-25 grams of protein at each meal - breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For example, 3 ounces of fish, chicken, or lamb (about the size of a deck of cards) provides 17-25 grams of protein. That would be "adequate" protein. An egg only has 6 grams of protein so one would need to have 3-4 eggs to supply the proper protein needed for a meal.
Now let's take a look at nuts and seeds. The chart below shows the nutrient information for approximately 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds.
As you can see, nuts and seeds are an excellent source of healthy, whole food fats. They do also have protein but, just like eggs, you would need to have 3 to 4 times this amount to provide adequate protein for a meal. Now, look at the calories that would mean. For example, 1 cup of almonds would supply 24 grams of protein, but would also supply 54 grams of fat (that's a whole day's worth!), and 652 calories! Plus, can you see yourself eating a whole cup of almonds as part of your meal?
"Nuts and seeds are a healthy fat, and they are healthy for us. But you just have to monitor them and make sure that you're not using them as a primary protein source."
A great source of healthy fats and important vitamins and minerals, nuts and seeds are a highly nutritious food that makes an ideal snack (paired with some fruits or veggies), or to BOOST your protein content in a meal, but not as the main event. In fact, it is recommended to limit your intake to no more than a small handful (1/4 cup) a day.
And remember, to reap the highest benefit, eat nuts and seeds raw and unsalted whenever possible.
Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program with coaching, compassion, and humor.