Nuts: The Ultimate Feel Good Whole Food
Nuts: The Ultimate Feel Good Whole Food
Photo Credit: "© [Milan] / Adobe Stock
Scientific research shows a host of health benefits
Countless international scientific studies have researched and tested the food we eat to measure the effect they have on our health.
The latest study to investigate how a healthy diet can influence our longevity comes from the University of Bergen.
Researchers from the Norwegian university have created a calculator that can estimate how many years you can add to your life by changing what you eat.
The authors say: “The Food4HealthyLife calculator could be a useful tool for clinicians, policy makers, and lay-people to understand the health impact of dietary choices.”
And the results are clear. Adding nuts, whole grains and legumes to your diet will extend your life.
The study, published in journal PLOS Medicine, has concluded that life expectancy can be increased by up to 10 years by swapping red meat and processed food for natural whole foods such as nuts, grains, and seeds.
In this article devoted to all things nutty we take a look at the essential elements in nuts and their impact on good health.
The unique combination of starches, amino acids and fats present in nuts gives each variety its own particular health benefit.
While there are those for whom nuts pose a serious health issue, for those who enjoy them they represent a huge boost to their body’s healthy function.
Here are the main health benefits:
Studies in South Korea, Munich and Boston have shown that nut consumption has the ability to reduce cholesterol in people suffering from type 2 diabetes and obesity. It is thought that this may be due to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds and hazelnuts in particular appear to increase the HDL (good) cholesterol while reducing the bad, LDL, cholesterol.
Reduction in stroke risk
The knock-on effect of the humble nut’s ability to reduce bad cholesterol contributes to the belief that heart disease and stroke risk can be reduced by including nuts to your diet. Nutrition experts at universities in Madrid and Tarragona in Spain have concluded that pistachios may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nuts are naturally high in fibre. According to the NHS “there is strong evidence that eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer”. The fibre in nuts is absorbed by healthy gut bacteria which is turned into short-chain fatty acids. These in turn can assist in improving general gut health and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity according to multiple international studies.
May aid weight loss
Even though nuts are high in calories research into almonds has shown that the body does not absorb all of them. Research supported by the US Department of Agriculture may suggest that while a small amount of almonds (28g) may have up to 170 calories only 129 of those will be absorbed into the body. Further research into walnuts has shown similar results.
All nuts are rich in antioxidants. Put simply, these important molecules are vital for the survival of all living things. Antioxidants can fight the compounds in your body which can be harmful and cause disease if they become concentrated. These free radical compounds have been linked to illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
A ten-year study by US and Spanish researchers of almost 16,000 people has linked a reduced risk of depression with moderate nut intake as part of the Mediterranean diet. Nuts are naturally high in plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fibre as well as the amino acid tryptophan, which is responsible for producing serotonin. Along with seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts are reliable sources of this potentially mood-boosting amino-acid
What the NHS says:
Whole nuts and peanuts should not be given to children under 5 years old, as they can choke on them. You can give your baby nuts and peanuts from around 6 months old, as long as they are crushed, ground or a smooth nut or peanut butter.
To find out how a change in diet could potentially affect your life expectancy please visit Food4HealthyLife.org.