Can Vegetarians Eat Too Much ‘Good’ Fat?

Legumes & grains, low fat protein for those who want to become vegetarian. Eat only a small handful of nuts and seeds per day!


My boyfriend and I recently made the decision to become vegetarians and while we are loving it, we have run into a little problem. I started tracking everything we were eating to make sure we were making good food decisions and not turning into ‘junk-food vegetarians’.

We eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, etc but I noticed the protein we were eating (nuts, seeds, beans, peanut butter, olive oil) were quickly putting us well over the 50 recommended grams of fat per day.

My question is, do the daily values recommended for the average person apply to vegetarians? Is it safe to be eating more than 50 grams a day if they are mostly good fats? And how much fat is too much? – M.C.

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I’m sorry to say, it is possible for vegetarians and vegans to get too much of a good thing! Nuts are a great source of ‘good fats’, they have concentrated nutrients you can’t find in large quantities in many foods, and they are a good source of protein. But the fat-protein ratio in nuts, compared to legumes, isn’t so good.

For example, a serving of 10 – 12 almonds (a small handful) has 60 calories, 7 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. Protein is 9.6% of calories.

1 cup of cooked lentils, on the other hand, has 115 calories, 17 grams of protein, and only a trace of fat. Protein is 24% of calories.

1 cup of cooked brown rice has 216 calories, 5 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat. Protein is 7% of calories.

Measure for measure, legumes and whole grains are your best source of low-fat protein. Nuts are one of your best sources of ‘good fats’, but not THE best source of protein. Get more of your protein from legumes and whole grains, and eat nuts and seeds sparingly. A small handful or two per day is all you need.

For more information about protein sources, check out our plant food protein chart.

Here’s a good article about nut nutrition.

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Medical Disclaimer: Any changes that you make to your diet, and the results of those changes, are your decision and responsibility. Savvy Vegetarian does not claim to be a health care professional, dietitian, or nutritionist. We do not treat, or recommend treatment, for any illness or health condition.

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegatarian

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