Nuts 101

Nuts …

An important source of protein and heart-healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, tree nuts should be a regular staple of your birds diet. Remember though, you can give too much of a good thing so make sure the amount of nuts you feed are in line with the size of your bird, and Macaws need more nuts than other parrots.

This from Health.com sums it up nicely …

All nuts are about equal in terms of calories per ounce, and in moderation, are all healthy additions to any diet. ‘Their mix of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber will help you feel full and suppress your appetite,’ says Judy Caplan, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce are almonds (23 nuts; 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat); cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat); and pistachios (49 nuts; 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat).

Avoid nuts packaged or roasted in oil; instead, eat them raw or dry roasted, says Caplan. (Roasted nuts may have been heated in hydrogenated or omega-6 unhealthy fats, she adds, or to high temperatures that can destroy their nutrients.)

Offer your bird nuts in the shell (if they’re big enough to open them) … this brings a bit of fun to the party and gives them the satisfaction of cracking open their prize.  To the right is a list of good nuts to give your bird. Almonds also have a lot of calcium so they should be a staple.

NUT NAME
Almond (high calcium)
Brazil
Cashew
Hazel
Macadamia (high fat - feed sparingly)
Pecan
Pine Nut
Pistachio
Walnut
Peanut is NOT a nut!

Even though it has “nut” in the name, a Peanut is NOT a nut; do NOT feed your bird peanuts …not ever, ever, ever!

Peanuts also called “monkey nuts” are used everywhere in Parrot food … why? Because they’re cheap and parrots love them. They love them because they’re high fat, kind of like we love hamburgers and french fries. Since birds love them they eat the food so owners buy MORE of the food and manufacturers make lots of money.

The truth is that peanuts aren’t even nuts at all… they’re actually legumes that grow in the ground. They are bad to feed your bird because they can harbor the Aspergillus fungus which could result in your bird contracting Aspergillosis; a potentially deadly infection. We have all heard someone say “I’ve been feeding them for years and nothing has happened” … well the truth is that the number of spores in your bird’s lungs can build up over time. That buildup along with other factors like stress, poor nutrition, poor husbandry or unsanitary conditions, another injury to the respiratory system (e.g.; smoke inhalation), and prolonged use of certain medications such as antibiotics or corticosteroids can put birds at great risk of developing the disease. Aspergillosis appears to be more common in parrots and mynahs than other pet birds.

Why even take the risk? Give them tree nuts instead; tree nuts are better for them anyway.