Nuts in a Vegetarian Diet

Nuts in a Vegetarian Diet

Nuts in a Vegetarian Diet

Nuts are a fantastic source of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients for individuals following a vegetarian diet. A vegetarian is someone who consumes a diet consisting mostly of plant-based foods including fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. Some vegetarians also consume eggs and dairy foods. There are many reasons why someone might choose to follow a vegetarian diet, including religious beliefs, animal rights, environmental concerns and for health benefits.

The 4 main types of vegetarian diets

  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarians – eat dairy foods and eggs, but no meat, poultry or seafood. This is the most common form of vegetarianism.
  • Lacto-vegetarians – eat dairy foods, but no eggs, meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Ovo-vegetarians – eat eggs, but no dairy foods, meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Vegan – eat only plant foods; no animal products at all, no meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy foods.

Health benefits of vegetarian diets

Numerous studies demonstrate the health benefits of a vegetarian diet which include less heart disease and diabetes, normal blood cholesterol and blood pressure and healthier body weight and there are many reasons why this may be the case. In general, vegetarian diets:

  • Are low in fat, particularly saturated and trans fats.
  • Contain a high proportion of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Are low in dietary cholesterol (a vegan diet is cholesterol free).
  • Are high in dietary fibre.
  • Contain more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and wholegrains.
  • Are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals. It’s likely a combination of factors, including these, give vegetarians a health advantage.

Meeting nutritional needs

Despite the benefits, there are some nutrients that need special attention in a vegetarian diet. These include protein, iron, zinc, calcium, omega-3 fats and vitamin B12. Eating nuts regularly can help vegetarians to meet requirements for all of these important nutrients – apart from vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. If you don’t eat any animal foods (such as dairy products and eggs) regularly then it’s important that you have a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your diet, either from B12-fortified foods or a supplement.


Protein is an essential nutrient that is required for many vital roles in the body including growth and repair of cells, the formation of enzymes and hormones, normal functioning of muscles and bones, transmission of nerve impulses and to protect the immune system.

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Zinc is needed for reproduction, growth, wound healing, sexual maturation and for maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s found widely in plant foods but like iron,its absorption is reduced by phytates found in wheat bran, wholegrains and legumes.

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Omega-3 Fats

There are two essential fatty acids that we need in our diet – the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid (LA) and the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts are one of the few plant sources of omega-3 fats, providing more than 6000mg of ALA per 100g. Smaller amounts of omega-3 fats are found in pecans (620mg/100g), hazelnuts (120mg/100g) and macadamias (99mg/100g).

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10 Ways to include nuts in a vegetarian diet

  • Team nuts with dried fruit and seeds for the perfect nutrient-dense snack.
  • Cashews, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds make a tasty zinc-rich snack.
  • Add chopped walnuts and crushed linseeds to cereal to provide essential omega-3 fats.
  • Combine rolled oats and barley with mixed nuts and dried fruit for a nutritious breakfast meal to start the day.
  • Use nut spreads on toast and cracker biscuits.
  • Add freshly roasted cashews or peanuts to a tofu and vegetable stir-fry.
  • Try nut spreads in place of butter in baking biscuits and cookies.
  • Top pasta with pine nuts or combine pistachios with basil, garlic and olive oil to make your own pesto.
  • Process Brazil nuts with grated vegetables to make your own nutritious meat-free burgers.
  • Nuts are a great addition to salads – try pine nuts or pistachios with a pumpkin and chickpea salad, or crushed macadamias sprinkled on a roasted vegetable salad.


This information was provided by Nuts For Life. Images and Videos were provided by Nuts For Life.Nuts for Life For further information on nuts and health, refer to or phone 02 8295 2300

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