Discover Why Nuts and Seeds Are So Irresistible

Do you find it hard to stop at just one handful of almonds or cashews?  

You’re not alone.  Nuts and seeds, often hailed as “healthy snacks”, captivate our taste buds and leave us craving more.  But what makes these nutrient-packed morsels so irresistible?  

The secret lies in the science of satiety.  Nuts and seeds have a unique way of hitting our bliss points, making them super appealing.  

Let’s uncover the secrets behind the satiety of nuts and seeds and learn how to make more satisfying and healthier snacking choices.

While nuts and seeds are often considered ‘healthy snacks’, you may be surprised to see how low their satiety scores are:  

  1. pumpkin seeds – 28%
  2. hemp seeds – 28%
  3. coconut – 26%
  4. macadamia nuts – 23%
  5. sesame seeds – 21%
  6. Brazil nuts – 21%
  7. cashews – 19%
  8. sunflower seeds – 18%
  9. hazel nuts – 17%
  10. almonds – 15%
  11. flax seeds – 14%
  12. pistachio nuts – 12%

The Science Behind the Satiety of Nuts and Seeds

The amount we eat of any food is a function of our cravings for energy and nutrients.  Once we get enough of a particular nutrient, we experience sensory-specific satiety, and foods with more of that nutrient become less appealing. 

The point where our cravings turn to satiety is called the bliss point.  The bliss point is the concentration of any nutrient that aligns with maximum energy intake.  Foods that hit multiple bliss points are hard to resist. As you’ll learn below:

  • Nuts like almonds and pistachios hit the protein bliss point at around 12.5%, making them easy to overeat.
  • Nuts typically have a high fat %, so they’re energy-dense.  
  • Some nuts, like cashews and pistachios, are rich in iron and potassium, making them a little harder to overeat than other nuts and seeds, contributing to their strong taste and higher satiety.   

How We Calculate Satiety: The Science Behind the Bliss Point

Since the 1970s, processed food companies have been engineering their products to hit our bliss points, particularly for sugar, salt, and fat.  Since then, Big Food companies have been engineering their food to hit the bliss points to compete and maximise profit. 

But our analysis reveals that we have a bliss point for all the essential nutrients.  Considering other nutrients empowers us to predict more accurately how much of a particular food we will eat based on its nutritional properties. 

We don’t binge on nutrient-poor, empty-calorie foods like pure oil, sugar or flour.  Instead, the foods we can’t stop eating contain the perfect blend of nutrients and energy to seduce us but never fully satisfy our cravings. 

Meanwhile, nutrient-dense foods have a much stronger taste, which signals to our bodies that we don’t need much of them to get the nutrients they provide (McCrickerd & Forde. 2016).  When we get more than the minimum amount we need of any nutrient, we experience sensory-specific satiety

As you’ll see below, nuts are one of nature’s special foods that enable us to consume a lot of energy. They contain the perfect blend of nutrients and energy to allow us to maximise energy intake. Let’s dive into the satiety charts for nuts and seeds to understand why they are nature’s perfect food to help us eat more and store winter fat. 

Protein: Nuts Hit Our Bliss Point

Nuts and seeds provide some protein, but generally, they provide just the right amount of energy to hit the 12.5% bliss point for protein.  

By comparison, other foods, like meat, seafood and even some vegetables, have a much higher protein % that triggers a higher satiety per calorie

Fat: Makes Nuts Yummy

Most processed foods, like pizza shown on the chart below, are designed to hit the 38% bliss point for fat.  Meanwhile, very low-fat foods are hard to overeat.   Nuts and seeds have a very high % of their energy from fat, making them energy-dense.  This makes it super easy to get a lot of energy from high-fat nuts quickly. 

While lower-carb foods, which usually contain plenty of protein, can be satiating, high-fat foods are energy-dense, making it easy to get a lot of energy quickly. You may feel satiated with a few handfuls of nuts.  However, your satiety per calorie is low because you must consume so much energy to achieve that satiety.  

Iron: Not all Nuts are Created Equal

Iron has a metallic taste that we don’t enjoy in high concentrations.  Macadamias, almonds and pistachios have enough iron to hit our bliss point.  They’re tasty but not overpowering.  They will give us some iron, but we have to eat more to get it.  Meanwhile, pistachios and cashews have a stronger taste, partly because they have more iron, which signals that we need less of them. 

Potassium: Just a Little

Most nuts have a moderate potassium concentration, but not enough to dive into the satiety response like meat, seafood and veggies. 

Satiety Per Calorie vs Nutrient Density

I hope you’ve found this insight into our satiety algorithm and how we calculate the satiety scores interesting.  For more details on nuts, seeds and other foods, check out our interactive food search tool to learn more.  For greater satiety, choose foods towards the right.  To nourish your body, choose foods towards the top of the chart. 

Your Personalised Satiety Formula

While our satiety formula is calibrated using 619,301 days of data from people eating a range of diets all over the world, unfortunately, there is no perfect one-size-fits-all satiety algorithm.

The nutrients you need to prioritise to crush your cravings are unique to you.  To understand your priority nutrients and the foods and meals that will complete your unique nutritional fingerprint, check out our free Nutrient Clarity Challenge

Optimise Your Diet for Higher Satiety

If you need help optimising your diet for greater satiety, you can join our Macros Masterclass.  Over four weeks, we guide our Optimisers to find the right balance of protein, fat and carbs, along with the shortlist of nutrients that provide greater satiety for most people. 

Level Up Your Nutrition Game

But if you’re ready to take your nutrition to the next level and move from the bliss points towards the optimal nutrient intakes for all the essential nutrients, you’ll love our Micros Masterclass.

Summary

By understanding the bliss points and nutritional profiles of various nuts and seeds, we can make more informed choices that support satiety and overall health.  

Understanding the bliss points of nuts and seeds allows you to make more informed snacking choices to support your health and satiety.

What are your go-to nuts and seeds?  Do you find some more filling than others?  Which ones are your kryptonite foods that you can’t stop eating?  Leave your comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Discover Why Nuts and Seeds Are So Irresistible”

  1. T?at is a good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere.

    Simple but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one.

    A must read article!

    Reply
  2. This is really fascinating and makes sense as ideas. My personal experience is quite different. I find macadamia nuts kryptonite (cannot stop eating if I start), followed by cashews and pistachios! (And I’m anemic/need iron.) My observation of other people around me is that they find cashews and pistachios the most moreish.
    Other nuts and seeds I find easy to moderate.
    I’m really puzzled by the low satiety scores on the seeds (tend to be higher protein and fiber), especially flax which contains ALA and so much fiber, and hemp which has complete protein. Any insights into why they’re so low (is it just the high fat content)?

    Reply
  3. I generally love your content, but somehow my experience with nuts & satiety is completely different. I find coconut to be the most satiating. A 100g pack of coconut for lunch makes me full already and keeps me full for hours. And brazil nuts are second. I can only eat like 5 or 6 before I have to stop. But I can easily overeat on cashews, especially when they are salted… . Interesting how individuals can have a completely different experience. I guess that’s why self-experimentation is so important.

    Reply

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