A recent study has shown that eating nuts as little as 3 times a week can help protect against cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. Nuts are also a significant source of antioxidants, nutrients, soluble fiber, and energy.
The 5-year study documented that nuts reduce the rates of deaths by Cancer by 40%, Heart Disease by 55%, and from any natural cause by 39%. Walnuts were the most impressive, with an amazing 45% reduction from all causes. The serving amount in the study was 1 ounce, roughly a quarter of a cup, which is smaller than a handful.
Other studies (here and here) have also shown benefits from consuming nuts with the lowering of cholesterol levels, helping control Type 2 Diabetes by improving insulin resistance, reduce your risks for Metabolic Syndrome, lower cancer-causing inflammation, reduce obesity, and decrease high blood pressure . Even if you are not a fan of nuts, one study showed benefits with consumption at only twice a week.
Nuts have a long list of essential nutrients and antioxidants:
1. Vitamins: Niacin, Vitamins A, B, C, E and K, pantothenic acid, and folic acid: an essential nutrient during pregnancy.
2. Minerals: Potassium, zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Magnesium is a difficult mineral to obtain from the typical American diet, and studies show that most Americans have low magnesium levels.
3. High in monounsaturated fats. These are the ‘healthy’ types of fats that help to lower cholesterol.
4. High in Soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is helpful in promoting bowel regularity, lowering cholesterol levels, and were recently shown to directly lower the amount of fat stored in the abdominal area. For each 10 grams of soluble fiber consumed each day (1/8 of a cup of Walnuts ), belly fat decreased by 3.7 % over a five-year period.
5. They are high in protein.
6. As an added bonus, they are Gluten free.
Walnuts, particularly in their skin, were found to have double the amounts of anti-oxidants when compared to other nuts,
as well as containing high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid, an Omega-3 oil. They have a high percentage of the more beneficial of the forms of Vitamin E, which has been proven to help reduce heart disease.
Nuts are best consumed in their raw and uncooked form. Processed nuts have a lower percentage of antioxidants due to the heat used in roasting. Nut-containing products such as butters and spreads are combined with high amounts of sugar and other chemicals.
All nuts are high in calories, so moderation is important. As part of your diet, you should lower the amount of calories from other sources as you increase your nut consumption.
To make them more palatable, cook them over very low heat with a sprinkle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and for an extra bit of flavor, some chili powder. Make a large batch, and store both the prepared and raw supply in your refrigerator for freshness. This way they are a tasty and convenient in-between meal snack.
Crush and sprinkle them over salads, yogurt, or even as part of a sandwich. Their higher fat and fiber content will keep you feeling full longer than a processed and sugary snack. In order to fully release their potential, make sure to chew them thoroughly.
The phenomenal health benefits in such a small package should make nuts, particularly walnuts a part of your everyday diet.
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2. Sabate J, Oda K, Ros E: Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials.
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3. Fraser GE, Sabate 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, 152:1416-1424.
4. Albert CM, Gaziano JM, Willett WC, Manson JE: Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians’ Health Study. Arch Intern Med 2002, 162:1382-1387
5. Ros E: Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients 2010, 2:652-682
6. Kristen G. Hairston, Mara Z. Vitolins, Jill M. Norris, Andrea M. Anderson, Anthony J. Hanley, Lynne E. Wagenknecht. Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Abdominal Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity, 2011
With my thanks to this article’s author Bernicio Cruz, M.D.