Gluten free diets are better with nuts

We’re very fortunate to have this blog written for us at Be Well Gluten Free by By Lisa Yates, Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Program Manager Nuts for Life. It’s special that we’re still in March as this is the month when nuts are harvested so are at their best! Over to you Lisa!

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If there is one thing you need to remember when following a gluten free diet it’s don’t forget your nuts!

Despite the current fad, gluten free diets are not every day diets for everyone. They are a medical nutrition therapy for those with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance. People with these conditions need to avoid gluten for their entire lifetime. People on a low FODMAP diet need to remove it just to tolerance for those gluten-containing grains. But removing gluten-containing foods from diets can also have long term health consequences so finding the balance is key. The month of March is the Nuts for Life #nuts30days30ways challenge to get Aussies eating a handful of nuts each day. Here’s why eating nuts is always a good idea.

Gluten free foods and diets can be:
Low in fibre – gluten containing cereal grains wheat, rye, barley and triticale contain a fibre rich outer husk so it’s important to seek out gluten-free, fibre-rich alternatives to maintain a healthy bowel function and gut microbiome
High glycaemic index (GI) – gluten-free, low-fibre foods and diets tend to have a high GI which can affect blood glucose control, increase hunger and increase the risk of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (See this blog on tips to follow a low-GI diet gluten free)
High in additives – replacing gluten or gluten containing ingredients in processed foods often means a number of additives are required in its place. Gluten-free foods may appear in the Health Food aisles of supermarkets but it doesn’t always mean they are health foods.

One solution to these problems is of course adding nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

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• Nuts contain 5-10g of fibre per 100g or about 1.3-3g per 30g healthy handful – especially nuts with brown skins or testas. If buying nut meals as gluten free flour alternatives look out for nut meals with a brown fleck it means the skins were left on before they were ground. Nuts skins are rich in phytochemicals with antioxidant properties and they are thought to act as foods (prebiotics) for gut bacteria (probiotics). Research shows eating nuts can alter gut bacteria by stimulating the growth of specific types of beneficial bacteria (1-5) and the nut fibre may play a role in helping external probiotics survive stomach acid reaching the large intestine intact.(6) Use almonds, chestnut and hazelnut meals or whole nuts as snacks.

• Only cashews and chestnuts contain enough carbohydrate to be GI tested and they rank low GI which means they cause a slow rise in blood glucose after eating. For all other nuts they have a GI lowering effect. The complicated structure and high fat and fibre content of nuts means they are digested more slowly. When combined with foods and meals that also contain carbohydrate they slow the digestion of carbohydrate too. This means a slower rise in blood glucose(7), sustain energy and appetite control. Low GI diets reduce the risk of chronic diseases too. Thinking add almonds and cashews to a stir fry with rice or adding nuts to a gluten free breakfast cereal.

• Raw and roasted nuts are gluten free provided they don’t have any other flavourings added. Always check the ingredients list for any gluten containing additives such as thickeners or maltodextrins if nuts have been coated. Nuts, straight off the tree, are nutrient-rich whole foods with minimal processing so are guaranteed health foods.

• Daily nut consumption has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease and deaths (8) and type 2 diabetes risk (8), and they also help control cholesterol (9). Despite their high fat content do not cause weight gain and may help promote weight loss (10,11).

Did you know?
Chestnuts are not like other the other tree nuts – they are more like a grain or potato than true tree nuts. Chestnuts are a fresh produce item with a distinct season. They are low in fat but rich in low GI carbs and fibre (8g/100g). Surprisingly for chestnuts they are a source of vitamin C with about 10% of the RDI for vitamin C even after roasting. Chestnut meal is also a perfect gluten free flour alternative. It’s chestnut season right now so enjoy them while they last.

How many nuts should we be eating?
A 30g healthy handful each day either as a snack or as ingredients in meals is an easy health investment to make especially if you have coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant.

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What does 30g of nuts equal?
• 20 almonds
• 10 Brazil nuts
• 15 cashews
• 4 chestnuts
• 20 hazelnuts
• 15 macadamias
• 15 pecans
• 2 tb pine nuts
• 30 pistachio kernels out of shell
• 9 walnuts
• a small handful of mixed nuts

What about FODMAPs?
If you are following a low FODMAP diet then you will need to avoid some nuts but can eat others. Pistachios and cashews are high in FODMAPs while almonds and hazelnuts are low FODMAP provided fewer than 10 nuts are eaten in a serve.(12) And it all depends on your personal tolerance levels, so check with your Accredited Practising Dietitian about which are suitable for you.

For more information and recipes visit http://www.nutsforlife.com.au and to join in on the #nuts30days30ways challenge visit http://nutsforlife.com.au/media/nuts30days30ways , follow @nutsforlife on twitter, @nuts_for_life on Instagram or search nuts4life on Facebook.

References
1 Ukhanova M et al Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jun 28;111(12):2146-52.
2 Mandalari G et al Potential prebiotic properties of almond (Amygdalus communis L.) seeds. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jul;74(14):4264-70
3 Liu Z et al In vitro and in vivo evaluation of the prebiotic effect of raw and roasted almonds (Prunus amygdalus). J Sci Food Agric. 2016 Mar;96(5):1836-43.
4 Calani L et al Colonic metabolism of polyphenols from coffee, green tea, and hazelnut skins. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct;46 Suppl:S95-9.
5 Liu Z et al Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe. 2014 Apr;26:1-6.
6 Blaiotta G et al Effect of chestnut extract and chestnut fiber on viability of potential probiotic Lactobacillus strains under gastrointestinal tract conditions. Food Microbiol. 2013 Dec;36(2):161-9.
7 Viguiliouk E et al Effect of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled dietary trials. PLoS One. 2014 Jul 30;9(7):e103376.
8 Afshin A et al Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.
9 Del Gobbo LC et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1347-56.
10 Flores-Mateo G et al Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;97(6):1346-55.
11 Mattes RD, Dreher ML. Nuts and healthy body weight maintenance mechanisms. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):137-41.
12 http://www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/fodmap/low-high.html

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