Nutritionists have been hyping the health benefits of eating nuts for years — and for good reason. Numerous studies have found strong evidence of the ability of nuts (and seeds) to lower the risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Besides disease prevention, nuts also provide plenty of nutrients which the body needs to stay healthy.
In a 2017 study, researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University found that 45 percent of the more than 300,000 deaths linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke in 2012 were due to eating too much or too little of certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in nuts.
An earlier study by Harvard researchers also reported that people who eat nuts regularly tend to live longer and healthier lives than those who don’t. This, the researchers discovered, is because nut-eaters are 20 percent less likely to die from serious diseases like cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. The researchers also found that regular nut-eaters are more slender than their counterparts, meaning nut consumption does not lead to overweight.
In a recent study, researchers at Iran University of Medical Sciences found more evidence supporting the idea that eating plenty of nuts can reduce weight gain. In fact, studies conducted over the past decade suggest that long-term nut consumption lowers the risk of obesity considerably. The researchers discussed their findings in a review published in the journal Nutrition Research.
Eating nuts is better for your metabolic health in the long run
According to the researchers, nuts are not only rich in essential dietary nutrients, they are also great sources of bioactive compounds that promote metabolic health. But because they are high in calories — most of which, however, come from heart-healthy fats — some people have raised concerns that nuts may contribute to unwanted weight gain.
To determine if this is indeed the case, the researchers looked for prospective cohort studies, which investigated the relationship between consumption of nuts or nut subtypes (e.g., pistachios, walnuts and pecans) and changes in body weight, body mass index (BMI) waist circumference (WC) and risk of overweight or obesity.
They found six papers that met their criteria and had a follow-up duration of at least one year. Four of those studies showed an inverse association between nut consumption (at least one to two servings per week) and weight gain, as well as overweight/obesity risk. Of the remaining two studies, both of which evaluated the association between nut intake and changes in WC, one reported a significant inverse association.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that long-term nut consumption helps reduce weight gain and decreases a person’s risk of overweight or obesity. (Related: Give your digestive system a quick boost by eating sprouted nuts.)
Which nuts (or seeds) are good for your health?
Nuts are known as rich sources of monounsaturated fats. These are the healthy fats that support heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels. Nuts also contain plenty of fiber and protein, which can help curb your appetite by making you feel full for longer. Fiber- and protein-rich foods like nuts are beneficial for people with metabolic syndrome, as these can help with weight management, which is essential for controlling risk factors for serious diseases.
There are plenty of healthy “nuts” — some of which are technically seeds of drupes — that you can add to your diet. Here are nine of the best ones that offer a lot in terms of nutrition: (h/t to Healthline.com)
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
Nuts are nutritious and versatile foods that you can use in a variety of ways in the kitchen. To enjoy their health benefits without worries, choose only raw, organic nuts and eat moderate amounts of these convenient superfoods regularly.