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Can You Eat Nuts on a Whole30? Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Jan 27

Can you eat nuts on a Whole30?

So you're interested in trying out the 30-day elimination diet called the Whole30, but you've got some pressing questions about what you can include in your meal plan--namely, can you eat nuts on a Whole30?

Well, the short answer is yes, BUT there are caveats. 

All tree nuts, like cashews, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias, etc. are allowed on a Whole30. 

Peanuts, which are actually a legume, are NOT allowed on a traditional Whole30 diet. HOWEVER, on the Plant-Based Whole30, all legumes, including peanuts, are allowed as protein sources (some soy products are not compatible--highly processed forms of soy like textured soy protein, soy protein isolate, and soybean oil are a no-go). 

What about nut butters?

Nut butters are allowed as long as they do not contain any off-limits ingredients like added sugar, non-compliant oils, or artificial sweeteners. Even with fancy natural brands, you'll need to check your labels for added sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut sugar, or agave nectar. If unsweetened almond butter or cashew butter simply doesn't do it for you, RX Nut Butter is sweetened with dates and comes in single-serve squeezy pouches for those times when you need some emergency fuel. If you find that grocery store prices are simply too high for compliant nut butters, you can always make your own with a food processor, adding cinnamon or other spices to jazz things up if desired. 

Peanut butter would only be allowed on the Plant-Based Whole30 and would also require a clean ingredient list. 

One of my absolute favorite nut butters (whether on or off a Whole30) is NuttZo, a crunchy blend of cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and Celtic sea salt. I get mine from Costco. About half the monsters love it as much as I do, while some of my more texture-sensitive folks prefer creamier almond butter or Sun Butter. 

What about nut milks?

Since dairy products are out on a Whole30 plan (both the plant-based and traditional versions), nut milks are a great way to replace them!

Similarly to nut butters, you will need to check your ingredient lists. When almond milk first came on the scene, many brands used the additive carrageenan as a thickener/stabilizer, and some brands continue to do so. Carrageenan is one of only two food additives specifically banned on a Whole30 diet, as it is believed to cause stomach trouble and increase inflammation. In fact, if you have experienced stomach discomfort from drinking almond milk and believed it was from the almond, you might want to check your labels for carrageenan and see if switching to a carrageenan-free brand makes a difference.

Coconut milk is also a wonderful alternative to dairy products. Just be sure to check the labels on you can or carton.

Interested in making your own nut milk? Try our Monster Milk recipe!

​Are nuts even good for me?

If you grew up in the 90s, avoiding fat like the plague, you might have been raised with the idea that nuts are unhealthful. The truth is that nuts are wonderful, natural whole foods, full of healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients like selenium, magnesium, and Vitamin E, and can be great for your overall health.

However, when nuts are roasted in non-compliant oils and so loaded with salt (or sugar or MSG) that they become addictive, they can also be a junk food. 

Even within the category of tree nuts, there are wide variations in fat composition and nutrient levels. For instance, according to the website Nuts for Life, for every 100 grams, macadamia nuts boast 60g and 200mg of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids, respectively, while walnuts contain 12g monounsaturated and 6,280mg omega 3. Peanuts, which are actually a legume, contain 33 mono and 0 omega 3. 

Walnuts are highest in omega 6 fatty acids, at 43,330mg. Macadamias, for contrast, are one of the lowest, at 920mg. There is debate over whether an overabundance of omega 6 fatty acids in the diet contributes to chronic inflammation, but Harvard Medical School insists the important thing is increasing omega 3s, rather than eliminating omega 6s. 

Some people may have food sensitivities in which nuts, especially in large quantities, may cause digestive issues. If you know or suspect that this is an issue for you, it may be best to limit or exclude nuts from your diet, whether on or off a Whole30. If you are unsure, try a Whole30 without nuts, then reintroduce nuts before reintroducing the other eliminated foods, and see how your body responds. 

Do nuts contain harmful compounds?

The National Library of Medicine states that nuts may contain high levels of the mycotoxin aflatoxin B1,  which they call "one of the most potent carcinogenic substances." However, the good news is that their study concludes that, while care should be taken to avoid the mycotoxin, including some nuts as part of a varied, healthful diet plan has more health benefits than threats. 

Another potential concern and topic of much debate is whether there is harmful pesticide and chemical residue present on shelled nuts. Buying organic nuts may be a better choice if this is a concern for you. 

What about antinutrients?

Nuts do contain lectins, phytates, and tannins, as well as trace amounts of phytoestrogens, all of which are sometimes referred to as "antinutrients." 

Since antinutrients have been a discussion in the Whole30's elimination of grains (including the much-touted whole grains) and beans of all kinds, why not eliminate nuts as well? The main thought here is that grains and beans often form the bulk of one's plate when consumed, while nuts typically do not comprise the bulk of one's diet. 

While the legitimacy of the antinutrient concern is highly debated, the National Library of Medicine does acknowledge the potential toxicity of these compounds. However, they explain that there are several preparation methods by which to reduce antinutrient content. For instance, lectins and phytates may be reduced by boiling, fermenting, soaking, or germinating. Tannins may be reduced by cooking or removing the skins. 

Best ways to include nuts in your Whole30 diet

If you're geared up and ready to go with your Whole30, remember that when it comes to nuts, mindful moderation is best. 

​A small handful of nuts makes a great snack when you're in between appointments and need a little fuel for the day. 

A hearty spoonful of nut butter makes a great accompaniment to celery sticks or apple slices. A mixture of pistachios, goji berries, and cacao nibs makes a groovy trail mix to rev you up on those days your energy levels are waning. And in a pinch, a scoop of nuts can be a pantry-staple protein source for your kids' lunchboxes. 

Looking for some delicious Whole30 recipes to spice up your taste buds? Try Savory Crunchy Paleo Nut Clusters, Buffalo-Spiced Cashews, Whole30 Granola, Faux-lafel, Love Potion Smoothie, or Whole30 Charoset

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Also check out our Whole30 page for even more delicious recipes and inspiration!

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Hey Y'all!

I'm the Monster Momma.

I'm a Christ-follower, wife, mother to five sweet paleo monsters, writer, and

paleo food fiend.

Join me and my family on our paleo journey!

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