December 11th, 2013

Go Nuts! A Handful of Nuts a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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Groovy Green Livin Nuts

I’m on a mission to add more nuts to my diet. The occasional handful isn’t cutting it anymore and there’s a reason.

After listening to a recent edition of Science Friday on National Public Radio, A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits?  I’m convinced that nuts are where it’s at for our health. Yes, I know there are a tremendous amount of allergies out there, but for the purpose of this piece I’m taking that factor out of this discussion.

Study Finds Consuming Nuts Reduces Death Rate

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t.

The study followed 118,000 individuals for over 30 years those who ate nuts 7 or more times per week and found that they had a 20 percent reduction in dying from any cause.

Wow. 20 percent is a lot.

And any type of nut works. The study didn’t see a difference in the type of nut eaten, but rather focused on all nuts including “tree nuts” and peanuts (which are technically a legume).

There’s more good news. Higher nut consumption doesn’t only lower your likelihood of dying from a disease, it also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance.

Nothing to blink at.

The study also found there was no difference for men and women. Both should be eating nuts for better health.

But Aren’t Nuts Fattening?

We all know that nuts are fattening. This is probably why I haven’t been eating them by the handful on a daily basis. Let’s face it-an ounce of nuts has 160 to 200 calories, nearly 80 percent from fat.

According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Charles Fuchs, nuts are high in fat-but high in the better types of fats. Dr. Fuchs wonders if  nuts could be having an effect on our metabolism since the study found that although they’re high in fat people who eat a handful each day don’t seem to be getting heavier, but in fact leaner.

Maybe nut eaters lead a healthier lifestyle in general? Or maybe since they’re eating nuts they’re less likely to snack on other fatty, processed foods. Whatever the case may be, in study after study, the more often people ate nuts, the leaner they were.

How Many Nuts Should We Be Eating?

Dr. Fuchs suggests eating one serving (one ounce) once a day. This is equivalent to about 24 almonds or 18 cashews.

I’m a walnut, almond and pistachio lover. My plan is to add more organic, raw nuts to my diet. Maybe a New Years resolution?

What’s your favorite type of nut? How often do you eat nuts? After reading this are you planning to add more nuts to your diet?

photo credit: s58y via photopin cc


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