Nuts make nutritious snacks and are an excellent source of essential micro-nutrients. They are also a good source of each of the 3 macro-nutrients, containing large amounts of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat. Nuts are have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even lower cancer risk. Compared to people who avoid nuts, those who eat nuts on a regular basis also tend to have:

  • Lower systolic blood pressure
  • Fewer risk factors for metabolic syndrome and a lower risk for diabetes
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Reduced mortality risk by 23%
  • Greater longevity

There are many studies that link eating nuts to extending life.  A 30-year long Harvard study found that people who ate a small handful (approximately 1 ounce or 28 grams) of nuts seven times per week or more were 20 percent less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who avoided nuts.

Eating nuts at least five times per week was associated with a 29 percent drop in mortality risk from heart disease, and an 11 percent drop in mortality risk from cancer.

Research suggests that eating nuts may help your heart by:

  • Lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which play a major role in the buildup of deposits called plaques in your arteries.
  • Improving the health of the lining of your arteries
  • Lowering levels of inflammation linked to heart disease
  • Reducing the risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack and death

What might make nuts healthy for your heart?
Besides being a great source of protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

Unsaturated fats – It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids –  It’s well known that omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, but many nuts also are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing irregular heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.

Fiber- All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. In addition, fiber is thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

Plant sterols – Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products such as margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.

L-Arginine –  Nuts are also a source of L-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

In a Dutch study of 120,000 men and women ages 55-69 for 10 years, researchers found that people who ate just 10 grams of nuts each day had:

  • 23 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
  • 43 percent decrease in neurological disease
  • 30 percent decrease in diabetes
  • 39 percent decrease in respiratory disease
  • Fewer deaths due to cancer and heart disease.

How many nuts should you eat per day?

It is recommended that you eat 1 ounce of nuts every day, which is approximately a handful.  Moderation is key when it comes to eating nuts or any food for that matter.

Nuts per once ounce (28.5 grams):
49 pistachios, 23 almonds, 10 macadamia, 20 pecans halves, 16 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 16 cashews

Raw nuts versus dry roasted/salted nuts – Limiting salt consumption to no more than 2,500 mg/day is recommended. For those who are sensitive to salt for blood pressure reasons, perhaps no more than 1,500 mg/day is better, and eating raw forms of nuts would be preferable.

Dry Roasting Nuts
Studies have shown that dry roasting of most nuts does not reduce their health benefits. So if you like the taste of raw nuts, go with them but if you don’t, then dry roasted nuts that are either not salted or lightly salted are the way to go. Either way, get in your daily one ounce of your favorite nuts.

I suggest switching between your favorite nut choices because they all have slightly different nutritional make-up. For example, a one-ounce serving of pecans includes over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked pecans in the top 20 out of 100 foods for antioxidant capacity. Walnuts contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.

CLICK HERE to learn how to roast nuts and enjoy super tasty recipes to help you go nutty over nuts including; Rosemary Roasted Walnuts, Roasted Almonds with Honey & Cinnamon, Maple-Chipotle Spiced Nuts, Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds, Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts, Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans, Cocoa Cardamom Espresso Roasted Almonds and more.

To the Best of Health,

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

 

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