The Advantages of Nuts for Your Health

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Nuts

Nuts: Benefits for the Body

Omega-3 fats are healthy and high in Omega-3s

Not long ago, fat was demonized because of its role in weight gain. In recent years, we’ve all come to accept that not all fats cause weight gain. In fact, some fats can actually be beneficial to our health. These “healthy” fats are found in large quantities within many types of nuts. Most nuts, for example, are high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, support cellular health, and help the body absorb vitamins and nutrients that are fat-soluble.

As if this wasn’t enough, certain nuts contain a polyunsaturated fatty acid known as alpha linolenic (or ALA) for short. ALA, an omega-3 fat, is essential for good health and helps support the heart, brain and eyes as well as mood and inflammation.

High in Protein

Nuts are mostly a fat source, but they also contain a significant amount of protein. The body uses protein in a variety of ways, but the most important is to repair and grow tissue like muscles and bones. A high intake of protein is important for weight loss, since it increases metabolism and makes us feel fuller longer. It is recommended that older adults consume more protein to maintain their strength and reduce muscle loss.

The Source of Fibre

In the UK, it has been widely reported that we only consume half the 30g fibre recommended each day. Certain types of nuts contain around 5g fibre per serving. They are therefore a great way to maintain our digestive health.

L-Arginine and Circulatory Health

The amino acid L-arginine is also a high concentration in nuts. In the body, L-arginine, an amino acid, is converted to nitric dioxide, a signaling molecule that dilates blood vessel. This increases blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. It helps to maintain a healthy circulatory systems.

Plant Sterols: An Optimal Cholesterol Level

Some nuts contain a large amount of plant sterols. Sterols, which are molecules very similar to cholesterol in our bodies, compete for absorption into the bloodstream. They compete with cholesterol to be absorbed into our bloodstream. As plant sterols increase, cholesterol levels can drop, resulting in significant health benefits. A diet high in plant sterols (2,5-3g daily) has been shown to reduce cholesterol by as much as 13% within a month.

Specific Nuts and Their Health Benefits

Let’s look closer at specific nuts and their benefits.

Almonds

A serving of 1oz almonds contains almost 4g fibre and more than a third your daily requirement of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects our cells and reduces the oxidation cholesterol. Atherosclerosis is caused by oxidised cholesterol which is more likely to accumulate in blood vessel walls. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your body against this narrowing of arteries, which has been linked to serious medical problems like heart attacks.

Almonds contain several nutrients that are less well known, including biotin and copper. Biotin, which supports healthy skin and hair, is known as the beauty vitamin. Manganese and Copper are also important minerals to maintain joint health due to their roles in cartilage and connective tissues.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium. Selenium, an essential mineral, plays a vital role in the synthesis and function of glutathione. Scientists refer to this antioxidant as “master”. Selenium is also important for thyroid, immune and sperm function. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey’s latest findings, selenium deficiency is quite common. We only need to eat two Brazil nuts a day to get all the selenium that we need.

Pecans

Pecan nuts, which contain 12g of monounsaturated monofat per ounce, are among the richest sources in the world of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Pecans’ high levels of Thiamine further increase their cardiovascular benefits. Thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, gives the heart the energy to beat more than 100,000 times a day. Pecans, like most other nuts, contain a significant amount of minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese and magnesium. Pecans contain all essential vitamins and minerals except for vitamin A, sodium and B12.

Walnuts

Walnuts are known for their ALA. This ingredient has been proven to reduce cholesterol and blood clotting risk in a diet rich in walnuts. Walnuts also contain molybdenum, a mineral less known that is important in the formation of connective tissues. Walnuts are good for the skin, hair and nails.

Pistachios

The pistachios are unique among other nuts. They are rich in vitamin B6, which is essential for many bodily functions. From red blood cell production to hormone balance and fatigue reduction, this nutrient plays a role in many bodily processes. Pistachios also contain a high amount of phosphorous. This mineral is important for strong teeth and bones. Pistachios contain a high level of lutein, zeaxanthin and other pigments which promote healthy eyesight.

Macadamias

Macadamias provide slightly more monounsaturated fatty acids than pecans. They contain almost 17g of fat per ounce. Macadamias contain a lot of vitamin B1, just like pecans. Vitamin B1 is not only good for the heart, but also supports energy, mental health and the nervous system.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients. Notable are the vitamins B1, E, B6, B9(folate), and K. Hazelnuts are rich in minerals including manganese. An ounce of hazelnuts provides almost 90% of NRV.

What does the study reveal?

After we have discussed the benefits of nuts in general, it is time to see if scientific research supports our view. Start by examining cardiovascular health. Nuts are known for their ability to lower cholesterol. Regular nut consumption lowers LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ kind), increases HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ kind) and reduces triglyceride, a type blood fat. High LDL, triglycerides and low HDL all contribute to heart disease.

Numerous studies have also shown that nuts are rich in antioxidants that protect cholesterol. The damaged cholesterol is most likely to adhere to blood vessel walls. It is amazing to learn that consuming just one portion of pecans can reduce the amount of oxidised blood cholesterol by as much as a third. Researchers have confirmed the health benefits of nuts.

In a study of over 7000 participants, those who consumed 30g of nuts daily reduced their risk of dying from heart disease or a stroke by almost a third compared to a group that followed a low-fat diet. If you’re concerned about your heart health, it seems that you should include nuts in your diet.

What is a good serving size of nuts?

It is essential to consume nuts in a dose that is supported by scientific evidence. In this article we’ve referred to 28g or an ounce. At least twice a month, this is an amount that you should aim to consume. Researchers recommend eating up to 42g (an ounce and half) of fish at least four times per week. However, any amount within this range will likely provide the benefits discussed in this article.

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After reading this article you should now understand not only that nuts are healthy for you but also why. It seems that 30-40g of almonds a few days per week is all you need for a significant improvement in your health. Eating a wide variety of nuts ensures you receive a range of vitamins, minerals, and natural compounds.