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Why Eating Nuts Is Healthy

nuts and almonds In a way, this is the second part of my previous post on eating nuts to lose weight. In that post, I talked about nuts in terms of weight loss. In this one, I want to expand my perspective and talk about why nuts are healthy for you and why you should make them a regular part of your diet, as I do.

The Health Benefits of Nuts

Nuts, a high fat, high calorie food, may seem like a food to avoid, but research shows otherwise. In a papar published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [1], the various health benefits of nuts were examined across an array of past studies and research. Among the estalished benefits it was found that long term consumption of nuts may produce the following effects:

  • Lower risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Reduced risk of various gallstone issues.
  • Lower risk of diabetes mellitus among women
  • Lower risk of certain cancers, mostly among women.
  • Lower chance of weight gain.

Why Eating Nuts Can Save Your Life

The main benefit of nuts is how it can help you avoid coronary heart disease. This is something that can literally mean the difference between life and death.

In a study which examined over 30,000 men looked at the effect of various foods consumption on risk of fatal coronoary heart disease incidents [2]. One of the factors examined was consumption of nuts. What was found was that men who consumed nuts 4 times a week or more were at a substantially lower risk to die of CHD than those who ate nuts one time a week or less.

Nuts Reduce Bad Cholesterol

almonds In a study which was done by the NMCD [3], the effects on bad cholesterol of 3 foods were compared. The foods were virgin olive oil, nuts, and almonds. In this study, the subjects were all patient with high levels of cholesterol. Each had 40% of their diet calories replaced with those gotten from one of the 3 foods examined.

The study lasted for a number of weeks. At the end of which the bad cholesterol level of each subject was recorded. The results showed that all 3 foods helped to reduce cholesterol levels. However, nuts and almonds did so better than olive oil. In addition, it was found that a nut-enriched diet also helped improve some of the cardiovascular disease markers, lending further proof to their effect in helping reduce the risk of these diseases.

Pistachios and Almonds Decrese post-prandial Glycemia

Post-prandial glycemia is a health condition in which a person experiences a low level of blood glocuse following a meal. Its symptoms may include dizziness, headaches, excessive sweating, fatigue, tremours, and more. Various studies have shown the beneficial effects of various nuts on patients of post-prandial glycemia [4],[5]. In particular, it was found that almonds and pistachios may help reduce the occurrence of this condition.

Nuts Are Rich in Antioxidants

If you’re looking to add more antioxidants to your diet, reduce the effects of aging and protect your cells from free radicals, nuts have to be part of your diet. A number of nutrition research papers show how rich nuts are in antioxidants [6][7].

A Few Tips on Eating Nuts

It’s important to realize that all nuts are not the same. Each type has its own nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. You should eat a variety of nuts to get all these different nutrients. Among my favorite nuts are walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts. You should be aware that nuts cannot be eaten in large quantities as they are calorie dense. 24 almonds contain 163 calories, quite a lot for so little. So, nuts should be eaten in small quantities.

I like to eat nuts in a number of ways:

  1. As snacks - always eating a few at a time, never a bunch.
  2. With my morning oatmeal or cereal – Nuts are an excellent food to reduce appetite so they are perfect for breakfast.
  3. With salads – They add a lot of body to any salad I make.

You can also eat nuts through a variety of butters. While peanut butter is the most common, there is also almond butter and walnut butter which I’ve tried and both were good. It’s important to choose organic butters and those with little added salt to them.

In conclusion

While I haven’t covered each and every health benefits associated with nuts and there are plenty of studies which I have not mentioned here, I hope that I’ve made the case for nuts. I find them to be an excellent addition to my diet. They are just a source of healthy fat which actually helps you lose weight. Nuts are healthy for a number of reasons which is why a healthy diet should include them.

References:

1. Sabaté J, Ang Y. Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

2. Fraser GE, Sabaté J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1992 Jul;152(7):1416-24.

3. Damasceno NR, Pérez-Heras A, Serra M. Crossover study of diets enriched with virgin olive oil, walnuts or almonds. Effects on lipids and other cardiovascular risk markers. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Mar 21.

4. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Josse AR. Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr. 2006 Dec;136(12):2987-92.

5. Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A. The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia.

6. Alasalvar C, Karamać M, Amarowicz R, Shahidi F. Antioxidant and antiradical activities in extracts of hazelnut kernel (Corylus avellana L.) and hazelnut green leafy cover. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Jun 28;54(13):4826-32.

7. Tomaino A, Martorana M, Arcoraci T. Antioxidant activity and phenolic profile of pistachio (Pistacia vera L., variety Bronte) seeds and skins. Biochimie. 2010 Sep;92(9):1115-22. Epub 2010 Apr 11.

Date published: May 9, 2011. Last modified: May 9, 2011


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