Eating Nuts Reduces More Than Just Your Waistline

Dr. Hanna Ian

Food scientists and medical researchers are calling nuts the latest superfood for their ability to reduce the risk of a number of diseases.  From cancer and heart disease to diabetes and obesity, studies indicate consuming nuts prevents disease, and promotes a healthy metabolism.

Studies in the United States and Europe have shown a higher consumption of nuts and seeds significantly reduce the risk for developing cardiovascular disease.  Heart disease was reduced by 30% when nuts were substituted for an equivalent amount of carbohydrates; and when nuts were substituted for meat and dairy, a risk reduction of 45% was even more impressive!  Not only do nuts have cholesterol-lowering effects, they are also a rich source of an amino acid called arginine.  Arginine increases nitric oxide levels in the body which helps improve blood flow, reduce clot formation and lower blood pressure. 

Concerned about the high fat and calorie content of nuts?  Consider that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat consumed.  Nuts are a rich source of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, omega 3, oleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids, all of which are known to reduce total cholesterol and the harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL).  One of the more interesting research findings is that those who regularly consumed nuts had lower body weight, lower body mass index (BMI) and lower abdominal obesity.  Nuts are a good source of serotonin, a hormone-like substance that is responsible for elevating mood, decreasing appetite and reducing the effects of stress.  This helps explain why studies indicate a handful of nuts a day helps with weight loss. 

Consuming the type of fat found in beef and dairy as well as the hydrogenated oils found in margarine and vegetable shortening increase the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.  These fats, as well as trans-fat, reduce the insulin-binding capacity of insulin receptors on the surface of the cell.  Nuts are one of the most beneficial foods to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (a clustering of symptoms including high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure).  The type of fat found in nuts not only improves the insulin-binding capability on the cell surface, the fiber and magnesium in nuts give it a low glycemic index (GI) to boot.

The cumulative effects of free-radical damage in the body not only contribute to the advance of Type 2 diabetes, but are a major factor in the development of chronic disease as well.  Nuts contain the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium which reduce oxidative stress, and phytonutrients which reduce inflammation.  Both of which protect the cell DNA, cell proteins and cell membrane fatty acids. 

Because the beneficial fats in nuts are susceptible to damage from light and heat, they should be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.  They are also more health promoting when consumed raw and unsalted.  Check out some of the health benefits of the following nuts!

  • Almonds.  A handful is enough to give you 25% of your daily needs of magnesium and has more bone-strengthening calcium than a glass of milk.  Due to their high fiber and high antioxidant content they are good for the prevention of colon cancer and will help lower cholesterol. 
  • Brazil Nuts.  Just one provides your body with its daily need of selenium; an antioxidant that plays a role in the prevention of breast and prostate cancer. 
  • Cashews.  90% of the unsaturated-fat in this nut is oleic acid – the heart healthy fat found in olive oil.  These nuts are a great source of magnesium which supports healthy blood pressure, prevents cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. 
  • Hazelnuts.  In addition to being rich in iron, these nuts have lots of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which strengthen blood vessels and help protect against heart disease.  The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats also help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.  
  • Peanuts.  In addition to monounsaturated fats for heart health, these nuts contain resveratrol – the antioxidant also found in red grapes. 
  • Pecans.  This little nut contains over 19 essential vitamins and minerals.  The vitamin E protects the skin from ultraviolet damage from the sun, while folic acid and calcium help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Pistachios.  This nut, rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E, helps prevent cancer, heart disease and strokes. 
  • Walnuts.  Packed with health-promoting properties like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, this nut is known to decrease inflammation in the blood vessels and promote heart health. 

Allergies to nuts?  Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT) is a clinically effective treatment for the elimination of symptoms associated with tree nut, peanut allergies, as well as all other food allergies and sensitivities.  AAT is safe, non-invasive and requires no shots, needles or drugs.  By combining 21st century science with Traditional Chinese Medicine, AAT offers a highly effective treatment that will provide life-long relief from the symptoms caused by nut food allergies.  You can read more about Advanced Allergy Therapeutics and the AAT treatment by visiting allergyfreeflagstaff.com