One of the most popular foods on the planet are nuts. They are used in a variety of dishes and diets in a variety of ways. Apart from tasting great, they also have plenty of health benefits, including healthy heart, protection from Alzheimer’s and greater cognitive function. Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of nuts is associated with lower risk of mortality. International Journal of Epidemiology published another study that concluded that eating nuts lowers the risk of development of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease.
Technically nuts are fruits but they don’t taste sweet and are high on fat content. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, hazel nuts, cashews and Brazil nuts are some of the most common nuts available. Peanuts are generally categorized under nuts but they are technically legumes like beans and peas. Peanuts have the same characteristics and nutritional profiles as nuts.
Here are some of the most common and scientifically established benefits of nuts:
Good Source of Nutrients
Nuts are a great source of numerous nutrients, including fats, vitamin E, protein, carbohydrates, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, fiber, selenium, and copper. The amount of nutrients varies from one nut to another. Following table shows the nutrient content in an ounce of the different types of nuts:
Hence, nuts are an excellent source of nutrients when consumed on a low carbohydrate diet. In simple words, nuts are a low-carb, high fat food rich in plenty of nutrients.
Helps in Weight Loss
Are they high on calories? Absolutely, but studies show that actually assist in weight loss. According to a research conducted to study the effects of Mediterranean diet found that those who ate nuts lost 2 inches on an average from their waist as opposed to those who ate food prepared of olive oil. Another study focused mainly overweight women and found that women consuming almonds saw a significant decrease in their waist size and lost three times more weight as opposed to those in the control group.
The reason for this is that our body does not completely absorb the calories present in nuts. A major portion of the fats present in nuts are trapped in its fibrous walls. For example, there are 160-170 calories in an ounce serving of almonds, but only 129 are absorbed by our body.
High on Antioxidants
Nuts are a powerhouse of antioxidants. Antioxidants are mainly useful in controlling free radicals in the body. Free radicals play an important role in our body’s immune response but are harmful when produced more than necessary. They are produced naturally in our bodies during metabolism but are increased when exposed to sun, pollution, stress and other factors. Higher content of free radicals causes cell damage and hence must be controlled. Also, higher free radical content causes our bodies to go into a state of oxidative stress, which results in higher risk of diseases.
Antioxidants, such as polyphenols, that are present in the nut neutralize the free radicals and prevent or fight oxidative stress. By neutralizing the free radicals, antioxidants also prevent the damage of cells.
Inflammation is necessary as it is the body’s defense against injuries, harmful bacteria and other dangerous pathogens. On the other hand, long-term or chronic inflammation results in organ damage and increases the risk of diseases. With strong anti-inflammatory properties, nuts are a great way to fight inflammation. In the previously mentioned study about Mediterranean diet, it was also observed that participants consumed nuts witnessed a 90% decrease interleukin 6 (IL-6) and 35% decrease in CRP, which are inflammation markers. Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are primarily known to be good in fighting inflammation. Nuts are mainly beneficial in fighting inflammation in people with serious health conditions, including kidney diseases and diabetes.
Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Nuts help in reducing the LDL and total cholesterol levels in our body which is known to bad while increasing the level of HDL cholesterol which is known to be good. This is because of the presence of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in nuts. Nuts also lower the level of triglycerides in diabetics and obese people.
There are many more benefits of nuts and you should never miss any opportunity to include them in your diet.