It used to be that your doctor would tell you to stay away from high-fat nuts if you wanted to reduce your weight, waistline and cholesterol. There was so much we didn’t know then about the humble nut that researchers today have enlightened us about. The good news is doctors are now telling their patients to not only add nuts back to their diet, but also do it frequently to protect their health and lower their risk of death. Here’s why…
Go Nuts To Protect Your Health and Your Life
In recent research published in BioMed Central’s journal, BMC Medicine, a research professor out of Spain reported his findings from his PREDIMED study on the effects of nuts on human health. In his study, the researchers looked at over 7000 people aged 55 to 90. They were asked to eat a Mediterranean-type diet supplemented with either nuts or olive oil. Their control group was eating only a low-fat diet.
The Mediterranean diet in general has been found to be not only heart healthy but protective against other diseases, like diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and even cancer. Consumption of nuts in Mediterranean regions (people who primarily eat a Mediterranean diet) is relatively high compared to other countries so the researchers wanted to tease out which elements of the diet benefited health the most. Although reams of research have shown olive oil to be very beneficial to your heart and overall health, it turns out that nuts have even more health value. Here’s what the research found:
1. People who ate nuts had lower BMI (body mass index) and smaller waists.
2. Nut eaters were less likely to smoke. They were more physically active and ate healthier diets of more vegetables, fruits and fish.
3. Had lower levels of type 2 diabetes and took less medicine for high blood pressure.
4. Overall, nut eaters had a 39% lowered mortality risk and walnut eaters a 45% decreased risk.
5. People who ate nuts 3 or more times a week had over 55% lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and 40% lowered risk of cancer. Similar percentages were found for walnuts.
So what is it about nuts that make them so healthy?
Well for one, research has determined that all nuts contain “good” Omega-3 fats, alpha linolenic acids, as well as other beneficial phyto (plant) nutrients and good levels of natural Vitamin E. Walnuts have even higher amounts of these nutrients and almonds contain added Vitamin E. Secondly, researchers found out recently that eating nuts helps increase serotonin – a “feel good” chemical in your brain. Good serotonin levels help to elevate your mood and fight depression. It also seems to control hunger and boosts your heart health as well. Many people eat more when they’re depressed, so having higher serotonin levels, and feeling happier, may be what controls hunger responses. That would also help explain the lower BMI and waist lines of people who eat more nuts in their diet.
In people with metabolic syndrome – high blood sugar, higher cholesterol, blood pressures and belly fat content – prevalent in overweight adults typically over age 50 – the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer is significantly higher. Higher nut consumption – only 1 ounce, 3x a week – has been shown to help metabolic syndrome patients decrease not only weight, but abdominal fat specifically, and the “domino effect” diseases that accompany it. Researchers believe it’s the good Omega-3 fats and alpha linolenic acids in nuts that fight the inflammation that accompanies metabolic syndrome. Inflammation, it’s been proven, is instrumental in the onset of serious diseases of the heart, diabetes, Alzheimer disease, and even cancer.
The Nut Prescription for Better Health
It’s as simple as adding 1 ounce of mixed nuts – preferably unsalted/lightly salted – to your diet each day, or at least 3 times a week. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Eating 1 ounce (about ¼ cup) of mixed nuts as a snack.
2. Adding ¼ mixed nuts to your stir-fry vegetables instead of meat.
3. Mixing ¼ cup mixed nuts in your blender with 1-2 tablespoons liquefied coconut oil and make a “nut butter” spread to eat with apple slices, whole grain bread or crackers.
4. Add atop your favorite dessert, or to oatmeal with a little cinnamon, for extra protein and crunch.
I think it’s absolutely amazing that we’ve been shunning nuts for so long and missing out on all their miraculous health benefits. Now that you know the many health benefits of nuts, I’m sure your own doctor will agree it’s perfectly okay to add this tasty, satisfying food to your diet several times a week.
Eating Nuts 3 Times a Week Protective Against Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130715202458.htm
Benefits of Nut Consumption on People with Metabolic Syndrome http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111102125348.htm