The health benefits of nuts are many and well known from centuries. Nuts are foods full of goodness and nutrients for our body, which favor us internally as well as externally.
They are tasty and can be enjoyed in all kinds of diets and recipes.
Despite being high in fat, they have a number of impressive benefits for our health.
In addition, nuts are an excellent alternative to replace junk snacks, since they provide quality nutrients and do not contain cumulative toxic ingredients for our body.
Some of the most commonly consumed nuts are:
- Brazil Nuts
- Cashew nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pecan nuts
8 Health Benefits of Nuts that will make you include them in your diet
1. Nuts are a great source of nutrients
One ounce (28 grams) of mixed nuts contains approximately:
|Fat||16 grams, including 9 grams of monounsaturated fat|
|Vitamin E||12% of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake)|
|Magnesium||16% of the IDR|
|Phosphorus||13% of the IDR|
|Copper||23% of the IDR|
|Manganese||26% of the IDR|
|Selenium||56% of the IDR|
Some nuts have higher amounts of certain nutrients than others. For example, only one Brazil nut provides more than 100% of the selenium IDR.
The carbohydrate content of nuts is very variable. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and brazil nuts have at least 2 grams of digestible carbohydrates per serving, while cashews have almost 8 digestible carbohydrates per serving.
That said, nuts are generally an excellent food to eat on a low carb diet.
Summary: Nuts are high in fat, low in carbohydrates and a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.
2. Nuts contain a high amount of antioxidants
Antioxidants help control free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced as a normal part of metabolism.
The production of free radicals increases when we are under strong exposure to the sun, stress and pollution among other causes.
Although free radicals can play a beneficial role in the immune response, having too many can lead to cell damage.
When the level of free radicals is too high, it is said that our body is in a state of oxidative stress, which increases the risk of disease.
All antioxidants in plant foods, including the polyphenols found in nuts, can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals so they can not damage our cells.
C.A.R.O (Capacity of Absorption of Radicals of Oxygen), is a test that measures the capacity of a food to fight the free radicals. One study showed that C.A.R.O in walnuts is higher than in fish.
Research has shown that antioxidants in nuts and almonds can protect delicate fats in cells from being damaged by oxidation.
In a study, 13 people consumed walnuts, almonds or a controlled meal on three separate occasions. People who ate the two nut foods led to higher levels of polyphenols and significantly less oxidative damage compared to people who ate controlled food.
Another investigation found that two to eight hours after consuming whole pecan nuts, participants experienced a 26-33% drop in their levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol”, which is an important factor in risk for heart disease.
However, studies in elderly people and people with metabolic syndrome, found that nuts and cashews did not have a great impact on antioxidant capacity. Some other results, did not show any difference.
3. Nuts can help with weight loss
Although nuts are considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts can actually help us lose weight.
A large study called Prevention with Mediterranean Diet, evaluated the effects of this diet. The analysis of the data in a subgroup of the study, found that those assigned to eat nuts lost an average 5 cm (2 inches) in their waists, which is significantly more than those assigned to ingest olive oil.
It has been shown in controlled studies that almonds promote weight loss instead of weight gain. Another investigation, found that pistachios can also be useful for weight loss.
In a study of overweight women, those who consumed almonds, lost almost three times more weight, and experienced a significantly greater decrease in waist size compared to the control group.
Moreover, although the amount of calories indicated in nuts is quite high, studies have shown that the body does not absorb all calories. This is because a portion of fat is trapped inside the fibrous structure of the nut during digestion.
For example, nutritional data from an almond pack may indicate that a 1 oz (28 grams) serving has 160-170 calories, but the body only absorbs about 129 of those calories.
Similarly, recent research has found that the body absorbs about 21% fewer calories from nuts and 5% fewer calories from pistachios because of the explanation above.
4. Nuts can lower cholesterol and triglycerides
It has been shown that pistachios tend to decrease more efficiently the level of triglycerides in obese and diabetic people.
In a 12-week study, obese people who ate pistachios had triglycerides almost 33% lower than the control group.
It is believed that the cholesterol lowering power of nuts is due in part to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Almonds and hazelnuts appear to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol”.
Additionally, another study found that hazelnuts had similar beneficial effects on cholesterol.
Another study in a group of women with metabolic syndrome, found that consuming a mixture of 1 ounce (28 grams) of nuts, peanuts and pine nuts, daily and for six weeks, decreased significantly all types of cholesterol, except the HDL.
Several studies have shown that macadamia nuts reduce cholesterol levels. A diet of moderate fat including macadamia nuts reduced cholesterol as if it were a low-fat diet.
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5. Nuts are beneficial for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
Type 2 diabetes is a common disease that affects hundreds of millions of people. Having a condition called metabolic syndrome is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, nuts can be one of the best foods for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
First of all, nuts are low in carbohydrates and do not greatly increase blood sugar levels. Substituting nuts for carbohydrate-rich foods, tends to reduce blood sugar levels.
Studies suggest that eating nuts can also reduce oxidative stress, blood pressure and other health markers in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
In a 12-week controlled study, people with metabolic syndrome who ate 25 grams of pistachios twice a day, experienced a fasting blood sugar decrease of 9% on average.
Besides, compared with the control group, the group that ingested pistachios had greater reductions in blood pressure and in C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation related to heart disease.
However, the evidence is mixed and not all studies have found a benefit of eating nuts in people with metabolic syndrome.
6. Nuts can help reduce inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s way of defending itself from injuries, such as bacteria and other potentially harmful pathogens.
However, chronic inflammation (long-term inflammation) can cause organ damage and increase the risk of disease. Research suggests that eating nuts can reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging.
In the Mediterranean diet study, participants whose diets were supplemented by nuts experienced a 35% decrease in CRP and a 90% decrease in another marker of inflammation called interleukin 6 (IL-6).
Specific nuts have been found to fight inflammation in healthy people, as well as in those with serious illnesses. These nuts include pistachios, brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds.
However, a study on the consumption of almonds in healthy adults, found that, although some inflammatory markers decreased, in general there was not much difference between the group that consumed almonds and the group that did not.
7. Nuts have a high fiber content
Although the body can not synthesize fiber, beneficial intestinal bacteria can do it.
Many types of fiber work as prebiotics or “foods” for beneficial intestinal bacteria. Intestinal bacteria ferment the fiber and convert it into beneficial short chain fatty acids (SCFA).
These SCFAs have powerful benefits, including improving intestinal health and reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity.
In addition, fiber helps you feel full and reduces the amount of calories absorbed from ingested foods. A study suggests that the increase in fiber intake from 18 to 36 grams per day could result in up to 130 fewer calories absorbed.
Here are the nuts with the highest fiber content per ounce (28 grams):
|Brazil Nuts||grams 2.1|
8. Nuts can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
Several studies suggest that nuts help reduce heart disease and the risk of stroke due to its benefits for cholesterol levels, LDL particle size, arterial function and inflammation.
The Mediterranean Diet study, found that the group that consumed the nuts had a significant decrease in the amount of small LDL particles, and a major amount of large LDL particles. What is more, their levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol” increase.
In another study, people with normal or high cholesterol levels were chosen at random to consume olive oil or nuts accompanied with a high-fat meal.
The people in the group that consumed nuts, had better fasting arterial function and less triglycerides than the olive oil group, regardless of their initial cholesterol levels.
Nuts are delicious, versatile and easily available. In addition to being undeniably tasty and satisfying.
They can be eaten whole, sliced, sprinkled on food, on cookies, we can make flours with them, etc.
Nuts can be purchased at grocery stores or online. They are available in a wide variety of options, including salted or unsalted, seasoned or plain, raw or toasted.
In general, it is healthier to eat raw nuts or toast them in the oven at a temperature below 175 ° C (350 ° F).
Dry roasted nuts are a closer choice to the best way to ingest them, but try to avoid roasted nuts in vegetable or seed oils.
In addition, it is advisable to opt for those plain, without sugar or added salts. If what we really want is to improve our health.
Some recommendations below:
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The nuts can be kept at room temperature, which makes them ideal for snacks and trips. However, if you are going to store them for a long time then it is better to place them in a refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh.
Finally, health benefits of nuts are numerous: besides, nuts are a highly nutritious and super tasty food, as we all know and can fit into the diet of almost everyone. Eating nuts on a regular basis is an excellent way to improve our health.