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Portion distortion: Nuts

Nuts are a nutrient-packed snack. What’s the ideal daily number for you to munch on?

Do you reach for a handful of nuts for a snack? Unsalted nuts, whether raw or roasted, can be a high-protein snack packed with healthy fats and phytonutrients.

Just 28g of nuts daily has been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. For people at risk of developing heart disease, the cholesterol-lowering portfolio diet includes 42g of nuts daily and the DA SH diet, for blood pressure reduction, recommends 50g nuts daily.

Your choice of nuts can change things. Choosing salted or tamari-roasted nuts adds sodium and mixing nuts with dried fruit increases the carbohydrates and sugars.

Snacking on nuts can be a really healthy choice compared with muffins, biscuits and chips, but it can be easy for our portion size to be larger than we think. Although nuts contain healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, vitamins and other phytonutrients, they also are high in energy.

Mindlessly nibbling on nuts means we can eat more than we think. This isn’t helped by the fact nuts are often sold in large bags. So, while nuts are a healthy snack, too many can fill you with excess energy.

Recommended portion size

To keep it simple, it’s often recommended we have a 30g serve of nuts as a snack. That’s a little less than a ¼ cup, or a small handful. 30g of almonds: 750kJ, 6g protein, 16g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g carbs, 3.5g fibre


Distracted size

60g almonds: 1500kJ, 12g protein, 32g fat, 2g sat fat, 4g carbs, 7g fibre

Avoid portion distortion

  • Measuring or weighing nuts into small containers helps keep our portions more appropriate to our needs
  • Take a break for a distraction-free snack rather than mindlessly nibbling while at your computer.


The fats in roasted nuts are more vulnerable to going off so, if you choose roasted nuts, buy smaller amounts and store them in the fridge.

Article sources and references

  • Bechthold A et al. 2017. Food groups and risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 1-20
  • Chiavaroli L et al. 2018. Portfolio dietary pattern and cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and metaanalysis of controlled trials. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 61:43-53
  • Schlormann W et al. 2015. Influence of roasting conditions on health-related compounds in different nuts. Food Chemistry 180:77-85

Date modified: 18 April 2019
First published: May 2019


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