When will people stop calling nuts protein? Recently, I wrote an article by request for what you might call a high-end crowd: the social and education circle of a doctor-turned-nutrition-educator.
The article topic I suggested was too ordinary for this doctor’s group, so we went with how alcohol can sabotage weight management during the holidays. It gave me room to add some science to the article to accommodate the higher standards of the audience. ‘Nuff said.
Regarding holiday parties or dinner buffets, I suggested the readers eat before the event, particularly protein. Because the doctor’s crowd includes many vegans, I felt compelled to let them know what is and isn’t protein.
Not surprisingly, the editor/doctor informed me that nuts are protein, as is quinoa. The good thing is I had my research ready, so I pass it along to you.
The Nut Numbers
Almonds, for example, are over 78% fat, mostly monounsaturated. The remaining 22% of calories are almost evenly split between protein and carbohydrate, with protein only slightly ahead (by 2 grams, or 8 calories, per cup).
Macadamias are over 95% fat, mostly monounsaturated. Out of the 962 calories in 1 cup of macadamias, carbohydrates provide about 76 calories, and protein only 44.
Cashews, another healthful nut, are 70% fat, 19% carbohydrate and 11% protein.
Pistachios are about 72% fat, 19% carb and 14% protein. These values are just approximate.
Nuts are wholesome, but the numbers clearly don’t substantiate the myth that they’re a protein food. No one calls them a high-carb food because they’re not, but the carbs in 3 of the above 4 nuts outshine the protein.
Let’s Face Fats
Let’s start calling nuts what they are – healthful unsaturated fats. They’re good to eat, but not for their protein content. Get protein a better way – and not from quinoa! One cup of quinoa has only about as much protein as a medium-sized potato. Potatoes are not usually considered a protein food(!).
Vegans who won’t eat animal products might consider using unsweetened hemp or vegetable protein powders as a viable source of protein.