Nuts — The World’s Healthiest Foods

You might have heard million times “go nuts for nuts”, but have you ever given a thought to what resides in these small sized entities that makes them so desirable?  What are the health benefits of nuts? Are nuts good for you? The answer to all these questions is a simple yes! Yes, nuts are good for your health because of the zillion bioactive compounds present in them which gives them health stimulatory properties.

You can eat them literally anytime anywhere and in whatever form you want. Due to their small size they can fit into your pocket or can sit at the top of your favorite dessertor salador blended in your shake or smoothie perfectly–if you like!

However, a little caution with the quantity can help avoid the overdose of the minerals and nutrients present in them, as excess of anything is also not good for your health.

Bioactive Compounds In Nuts — World Healthiest Food

Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamias, Pecans, Hazelnuts, Chestnuts, Cashews, and Brazilian nuts are few of the examples of the different types of commonly found healthy nuts that are good for you and including them in moderate quantities into daily dietary regime can provide a health boosting effect.

Although the nutrition credentials of different types of nuts differ due to varied bioactive compounds present in them but most types of nuts are rich in calcium, iron, vitamin E along with other antioxidants, polyphenols, phytosterols, phytostanols, phytates etc.

Tree nuts along with peanuts (which are not exactly nuts) and other major nuts are also rich in good monounsaturated fats including PUFAs, MUFAs that are the heart healthy fats and protect one from developing potentially harmful and life-threatening diseases such as cancers, cardiac diseases and diabetes.

Daily Recommended Amounts Of Nuts

Whilst reading this you might want to know what exactly is meant by “moderate quantities of nuts”. So, for that matter let us help you in understanding the correct doses of nuts or serving sizes that are recommended by the leading healthcare giants.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one portion or serving size of nuts is generally 1 ounce. If you are an adult who follows a 2000 calorie-diet, then 4 ounces per week of nuts would be more than enough to provide you with the necessary health benefits.

It should be noted that 1 ounce of nuts equals to 2 ounces equivalent of proteins. That means that if you are eating 1 ounce of nuts then you are covering the 2 ounce of the daily recommended amount of proteins.

In case of almonds, 23 almonds make up 1 ounce and provide 163 calories, in addition to 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 14 grams of dietary fat.

Similarly, if you are interested in eating one ounce of peanuts then you can make it happen by eating 28 peanuts.

However, the daily consumption should be taken after consultation with your healthcare provider, in case of any specific disease of allergies.

5 Health Benefits Of Nuts

The bombardment of the functional compounds present in nuts makes them one of the best foods on the planet. A variety of nuts possess useful health stimulatory properties such as anti-cancerous, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive properties.

Adding 2 ounce of nuts in your daily diet can have profound effects on your health. Evidence from the New England Journal of Medicine also directs toward reduction in the incidence of various life-threatening diseases including visceral adiposity, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and endothelial dysfunction upon consumption of nuts daily.

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 If you are not aware of the health benefits of specific type of nuts that can tone down the harmful effects of certain diseases, then let us help you by pin pointing some of those as following:

  1. Nut Can Leave You Cancer-Free

It is not necessary to go nuts for nuts in order to keep cancer far from you. 1 ounce of your favorite nut in your daily diet can help you in keeping cancer miles away.

Research shows that different types of nuts help in suppressing the amounts of different deadly cancer causing inflammatory markers. Evidence from the British Journal of Nutrition found that nut consumption upto 8 servings per month were inversely associated with different types of fatal cancers.

The cancer lowering ability of nuts was also confirmed by the press release from Oxford university pressAccording to which, significantly lower incidences of colorectal, endometrial and pancreatic cancer were documented by pooled analysis of 36 studies published in the Journal Nutrition featuring increased nut consumption on daily basis.

Now you know that nuts posses excellent qualities for fighting off different types of cancers. So, let’s get specific about which nut can combat which type of cancer:

Walnuts For Cancer Prevention: Despite of all the health benefits of walnuts, they might not top your list of favorite nuts but they are remarkable in warding off different types of cancers.  According to the Journal of Nutrition Research and Practice if you consume more than three servings of walnuts per week then the chances of developing cancers reduce massively.

Walnuts—the inflammation fighters are also known for reducing the chances of colorectal cancers. So, what are you waiting for? Munch on handful of walnuts for staying cancer-free.

An interesting fact about benefits of walnuts is that they counter cancers by reducing inflammation causing substances. The functional properties of α-linolenic acid (ALA), ellagitannins, γ-tocopherol, melatonin, β-sitosterol, and fiber makes them the best nuts for reducing the cancer causing inflammatory markers.

Almonds For Fighting Breast Cancer: Did you know that adding almonds in your diet can effectively reduce the incidence of breast cancers two to three times? Well, apparently yes! A study from the Journal of Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation revealed that the individuals who ate peanuts and almonds on daily basis had less chances of developing breast cancer.

Brazilian nuts for warding off Cancers: Brazilian nuts not only taste great but are also rich in selenium—yes selenium—the most popular cancer fighter. Scientific support from the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer highlights the anti-carcinogen properties of Brazil nuts. So, if you do not eat Brazilian nuts already, start adding them in your life for benefiting from the anti-cancerous effect.

  1. Best Nuts For Your Heart-Health

Who knew that adding simple foods like nuts in your life could make your heart stronger than ever! Well, evidence from the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that if you consume nuts daily then the chances of the atherosclerosis and coronary artery diseases gets reduced to a great extent.

Walnuts for Heart:

Health benefits of walnuts makes them good cardio-protective agent too. These are loaded with Ellagic acid which is a major cardio-protective compound. Ellagic acid protects the mitochondria of heart against oxidative stress and reduces the incidences of cell death.

Therefore, nutritionists recommend consuming walnuts up to 2 ounces daily. Phenolic acids present in these nuts act as protective agents against oxidative damage causing coronary heart disease and stroke.

Peanuts For Heart-Health:

 Just like more than half of the world’s population, if you consider peanut a nut and not legume then you are living in the dark. This might be shocking for you but peanut is actually a legume. Nonetheless, the health benefits of peanuts make them a good choice for preventing the risks of major life-threatening diseases.

Peanuts are the best reservoir for Arginine- an amino acid that is good for heart. It is also a precursor for nitric oxide that helps in keeping the arteries relaxed and results in improving blood flow.

Not just that but phytosterols present in peanut help in keeping cholesterol under control. If you need more reason to add peanuts in your diet then you will be pleased to know that Flavonoids from peanuts are one of the best cardio-protectants.

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So, start adding 1.5 ounces of peanutsin your life daily to benefit from the goodness of this legume, according to The Peanut institute— a US based non-profit organization.

  1. Health Benefits Of Nut Consumption For Type-2 Diabetes

Nuts provide efficient glycemic control when taken in place of other bad carbohydrates. These can also help in controlling the blood sugar levels, to an extent beyond imagination.

In that regard, a study published in Diabetes Care found that diabetics who ate 2 ounces of nuts daily instead of carb rich foods for three months showed improved glycemic control and blood cholesterol levels.

Walnuts And Other Tree Nuts For Diabetes: Similarly Two to three servings per week, each serving of 25-30g approx. of tree nuts and other nuts especially walnuts were found to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Note: You must consult your healthcare provider for specific dosage.

Almonds Are Good For Diabetics: Moreover, if you consume 2 ounce almonds per day then the power of the vital nutrients such as magnesium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and fibers can improve your blood glucose levels, according to the Journal Metabolism. So, all the type-2 diabetics out there should start eating almonds daily for managing their blood glucose levels.

Note: You must consult your healthcare provider for specific dosage.

  1. Brain Strengthening Ability Of nuts

The list containing benefits of healthy nuts can extend up to moon and back. Yes! Nuts are that healthy! They can make you brainy too. Well, if you already possess Einstein-like super powers then you can go on easy with nuts and can forgo binging on these guilt free snacks. Otherwise various nuts have been seen to improve cognitive functions of normal human brain to many folds.

The main component responsible for increased neuronal function, pinpointed by a study published in the Nature Reviews is the omega-3 fatty acids present in majority of the nuts. Moreover, different nuts have been associated with up regulating genes that are important for maintaining synaptic function and plasticity.

Almonds Can Boost Your Brain-Power:

 Almonds have been found to boost the brain power, for that, a specific amount of almonds each day for four weeks have been observed to improve memory retention by the increasing theacetylcholinesterase activity, according to a recent interventionalstudy published in the Brain Research Bulletin.

Note: you have consult your health care provider for boosting brain power.

Walnuts Are Brain-Healthy :

Have you ever noticed the shape of walnuts? If not then you would be amazed to notice that walnuts share a great structural similarity with the shape of our brains! That’s quite interesting! It feels like nature is giving some sort of hint regarding consuming this healthy nut for increased brain functioning.

Evidence from the Journal of Nutrition suggests that walnuts are rich in numerous phytochemicals, including high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and the Polyphenols that can work wonders for our brain.

These compounds not only reduce the oxidant and inflammatory load on brain cells but also improve inter-neuronal signaling. An interesting fact about walnuts is that it can also reduce the age related memory problems. We recommend dwelling the habit of munching on walnuts to boost your energy and brain healthy powers.

  1. Nut Consumption And Weight Management

Snacking on your some nuts can actually lead to weight loss? Well, that’s an add-on bonus. Contrary to popular belief nuts can make you slim. A cohort study accessing the probable association between nut consumption and weight gain suggested that frequent nut consumption leads to reduced risk of weight gain up to 5 kg or more in some cases.

Pistachios For Weight Loss

Pick up some pistachios for reducing weight. Literally, pistachios can help in reducing weight and the serum triglyceride levels, according to the Journal of American College of Nutrition. These have the potential of becoming your next go to snacks instead of other fatty refined snacks options.

Busting The Myth Of Eating Nuts Leave Me With Diverticular Disease?

A popular misconception regarding the dietary intake of nuts is the risk of developing diverticulosis. That is the complication of the lower colon and is marked with bleeding and irritability caused due to prolonged constipation. High fiber foods are recommended to avoid such complication.

Doctors used to ban the use of nuts due to the fear of passing them in undigested forms and putting strain on the walls of the colon.

But a study published in the Journal of the Medical Association JAMA over the 18-year follow up session put the unnecessary fears at rest. It was found that the men who ate two to three times nuts per week actually had a lower risk of acute diverticulitis than the men who did not consume nuts at all. So, all the nut-eaters out there are in clear.

Health Risks Associated With Increased Nuts Consumption

Until now we discussed all the positive aspects of eating nuts but with sunshine comes the rain. Similarly, eating nuts in excess can also pose some harmful effects on our health.

Some of these include:

  1. Nut Allergies

Special care should be taken if you have any nut allergies as these can lead to anaphylactic reactions leading to death. However, if you follow a healthy diet and add moderate amount of nuts then these can add years in your precious life.

  1. Phytic Acids Affect Digestion And Iron Absorption

If you binge on nuts then they can decrease your iron absorption in the body due to presence of phytic acids, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Phytic acid has also been observed to interfere with enzymes necessary for digestion of the food such as pepsin i.e. associated the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, which is required for the breakdown of starch.

The activity of the trypsin enzymes is also negatively affected by the Phytic making protein digestion in the small intestine troublesome. So, eat nuts but with caution!healthiest food

  1. Muscle Aches And Gastro-Intestinal Problems

Too many phytates and tannins from nuts can also cause gastrointestinal complications including bloating or diarrhea.

Increased quantities of Brazil nuts more than half ounce per day has been found to infer muscle aches due to increased amounts of selenium present in them.

  1. Processed Nuts And Hypertension

Normally nut consumption in moderate quantities are not associated with hypertension but increases quantities of salted or processed nuts can lead to increased blood pressure.

Therefore, nutritionists recommended keeping the sodium intake under 1,500 mg per day to avoid abrupt spikes in blood pressure.

  1. Steveo Lawson says

    Fatima, thank you for your interesting article. However it leaves me with confusion as to quantities. Early you mention The USDA recommend including nuts at 4 ounces per week in your 2000 calorie diet, but subsequently mention for example 3, 1 oz.servings of walnuts per week and later that nutritionists recommend consuming walnuts up to 2 ounces daily. 1.5 oz./day of peanuts are recommended, 2 oz./day of almonds to get the full benefit. Do you have a guideline for mixed nuts per day?

  2. Shoaib Amjad says

    Excellent article with complete details about Nuts, love it.

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