Are tree nuts high in fat?

Posted on September 12 2023

Are tree nuts high in fat?

Fats fall into three main categories; Unsaturated fats, Saturated fats, and Trans fats. Of the three, Unsaturated fats are considered healthy and should be a part of every balanced diet. They are often referred to as good fats and are essential to the human body. Most nuts are rich in Unsaturated fats!   

1) Unsaturated fats are mostly found in nuts, vegetables, and fish. They reduce bad cholesterol, boost good cholesterol, and promote heart health. They also help with the absorption of certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) and are essential to every cell in the body. One thing to note is that Unsaturated fats remain liquid at room temperature.

Tree nuts are a great source of unsaturated fat (good fat). From the polyunsaturated fats found in Brazil nuts and walnuts, to the monounsaturated fats in almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and pistachios, tree nuts are very healthy when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet. Unsaturated fats are divided into subgroups called Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats. Both groups help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and maintain overall cell health. Polyunsaturated (omega-3 and omega-6) fats also play a role in blood clotting and the building of cell membranes. Research shows that omega-3 can lower triglyceride levels and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels, while omega-6 may reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Bottom line: Unsaturated fats are healthy fats and should be a part of every healthy diet.

2) Saturated fats can be found in high-fat meals like beef, pork, poultry (with skin), eggs, and high-fat dairy products such as cheese, butter, and ice cream. Saturated fats are also referred to as solid fats because they become solid at room temperature.

Too many servings of foods containing saturated fats can cause heart-related issues, high cholesterol, inflammation and weight gain. In fact, the American Heart Association suggests that no more than 6% of your caloric intake be from saturated fats (we’ll teach you how to calculate ‘calories from fat’ later in this article).

Bottom line: Saturated fats should be consumed in moderation

3) Trans fats are mostly found in products containing partially hydrogenated oils (PHO). Like saturated fats, trans fats become solid at room temperature. These oils build up in the bloodstream and can cause serious health issues like high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes.

In 2020 the FDA banned the sale of products containing partially hydrogenated oil, effectively banning most trans fats, but trace amounts can still exist in certain food products. The FDA requires that Trans fat amounts appear on a nutrition label only if a single serving contains more than 0.5 grams of Trans fat. Levels under 0.5 grams can be listed as 0g so multiple servings containing trace amounts of Trans fat can quickly add up! Watch out for some commercial baked goods, fried foods, margarine, and other foods that may contain partially hydrogenated oils (PHO).

Bottom line: Trans fats are considered bad fat that should be avoided.

Calculating Calories From Fat

Every nutrition label will disclose the total amount of calories and fat per serving. This is how you can determine how many calories each type of fat is producing. Let's use this example:

Calculating calories from fat

Total Unsaturated Fat

Unsaturated fat is not individually listed, but you can use this formula to calculate it:

Total Fat - Saturated Fat - Trans Fat = Unsaturated fat

In this example, this product contains 18g of unsaturated fat per serving. Calculation: 20 - 2 - 0 = 18

Calories from Unsaturated Fat

To figure out how many calories come from unsaturated fat, simply multiply your number by 9 as there are 9 calories in every gram of fat.

Unsaturated fat x 9 = Calories from Unsaturated fat

In this example this product contains 162 calories from Unsaturated fat. Calculation: 18 x 9 = 162

Calories from Saturated Fat

To calculate calories from saturated fat, use this formula. Remember that Trans fat is artificial saturated fat so you should add them together:

(Saturated fat + Trans fat) x 9 = Calories from Saturated fat

In this example this product contains 18 calories from Saturated fat. Calculation: (2 + 0) x 9 = 18

Total Fat Calories

Calculating total fat calories is even easier as the amount of Total fat is right there in the label: 

Total fat x 9 = Total calories from fat

In this example this product contains 180 calories from total fat. Calculation: 20 x 9 = 180

The nutrition label reads more calories than what we have calculated. This is due to calories derived from carbohydrates and sugars.

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