Despite the fact that every child these days seems to have some sort of nut allergy, there are some serious benefits that might make you take a second look at why you should be eating more nuts in the first place. We spoke with Marci Clow, MS, Registered Dietician, and Certified Nutritionist at Rainbow Light, who let us in on some reasons we might be inclined to start incorporating nuts into our weekly grocery lists. According to Clow, here are 5 reasons to be nuts about nuts.
1. Nuts do the body good
Nuts provide a good source of vitamin E, folate, magnesium and potassium, Clow tells us. “They are an excellent source of the healthier mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and have a high dietary fiber content.” Additionally, nuts are a significant source or protein, and are rich in phytosterols, which may inhibit cholesterol absorption.
2. Nuts may help with weight-management
Nuts are often considered to be fattening since they are an energy-dense food, but Clow tells us:
In 2014 a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Adventist Health Study-2 suggested that nut-enriched diets may in fact help keep weight down, in addition to offering other health benefits. Study participants who ate the most tree nuts – almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts – were between 37 and 46 percent less likely to be obese than those who ate the fewest tree nuts. Tree nuts appear to have strong inverse association with obesity, and favorable though weaker association with metabolic syndrome independent of demographic, lifestyle and dietary factors. For every one-ounce serving of tree nuts consumed per week, a person’s risk of metabolic syndrome dropped by 7 percent.
3. Nuts are heart-healthy
Walnuts are some of the best goodies in some pretty standard dishes – salads, desserts, you name it. All nuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fats, but walnuts happen to have exceptionally high amounts of the omega 3 alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Clow told us, “Research has suggested that ALA may help heart arrhythmias, and a 2006 Spanish study suggested that walnuts were as effective as olive oil at reducing inflammation and oxidation in the arteries after eating a fatty meal. Omega 3’s also support brain health.”
4. Nuts could help prevent prostate cancer
When it comes to men’s health, prostate cancer is a serious illness to look out for. Selenium, the mineral which has been linked to protection from prostate cancer, is found in just one Brazil nut, which contains more than a day’s worth of the stuff. “Pecans are also good for prostate health since they are loaded with beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that may help relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate,” Clow said.
5. Nuts are high in calcium and support digestive health
Almonds, in particular, are relatively low in calories and have more calcium than any other nut. Clow told us, “Almonds are also rich in fiber to support digestive health and vitamin E, an antioxidant linked to cognitive health, and support a healthy inflammatory response. Almonds have also been studied for their role in helping lower cholesterol.”