Are we nuts to be nuts about nuts?

Are we nuts to be nuts about nuts
Pic Caption: Nut-eaters are less likely to die of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease

MANY OF us would happily drink a pina colada laced with coconut spirit, or knock back an almond based amaretto liqueur and then later pronounce, “I don’t like nuts!”

However, the truth is, nuts have amazing health benefits, when consumed in a more natural form, even though they lend themselves to so many sinful delights ….. Honey pistachio ice cream anyone?

Not only are they a far better alternative to biscuits when you get your mid-morning hunger pangs, but they also work wonders for the body.

Don’t believe me? Here are six scientifically-backed benefits to eating them regularly.

They could help you live longer.

Eating a handful of nuts a day keeps the doctor away – and might help you live longer, according to two long-running Harvard studies.

“We found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts,” said study co-author Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The report showed that daily nut-eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

Overall, the daily nut-eaters were 20% less likely to have died during the course of the study than those who avoided nuts. (Peanuts, which are actually legumes, counted as nuts in this study).

They could positively impact cholesterol.

Initial findings from the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study indicate that daily walnut consumption positively impacts blood cholesterol levels without making people gain weight.

“Given walnuts are a high-energy food, a prevailing concern has been that their long term consumption might be associated with weight gain,” said Dr Emilio Ros, director of the Lipid Clinic, Endocrinology & Nutrition Service at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

“The preliminary results of the WAHA study demonstrate that daily consumption of walnuts for one year by a sizeable cohort of ageing free-living persons has no adverse effects on body weight.

“They also show that the well-known cholesterol-lowering effect of walnut diets works equally well in the elderly and is maintained in the long term.

“Acquiring the good fats and other nutrients from walnuts while keeping adiposity at bay and reducing blood cholesterol levels are important to overall nutritional well-being of ageing adults. It’s encouraging to see that eating walnuts may benefit this particular population.”

They’re full of nutrients.

In terms of dietary composition, nuts have a good nutritional profile, are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).

They are also good sources of vegetable protein.

Nuts also contain substantial amounts of dietary fibre, minerals such as magnesium and potassium, vitamins including folate and vitamin E, and other beneficial bioactive compounds such as phytosterols, tocopherols, and polyphenols.

They could help you lose weight.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating nuts regularly was associated with a lower risk of weight gain and obesity.

The aim of the research was to determine the relationship between nut consumption and long-term weight change.

“The results of this study suggest that incorporating nuts into diets does not lead to greater weight gain and may help weight control,” researchers said.

They could help prevent pancreatic cancer.

Eating nuts regularly may ward off pancreatic cancer, according to researchers from Harvard School of Public Health.

Researchers sampled data of more than 75,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study – a long-running investigation into the health of thousands of female nurses in the US – and analysed the link between pancreatic cancer and nut consumption.

The findings revealed that women who ate a handful of nuts two or more times per week had a 35% lower pancreatic cancer risk, compared to those who did not eat them.

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