Think Nuts are Just a Fatty Snack? Think Again

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Its mid-afternoon and you are faced with a case of the munchies. As you face the vending machine, which snack will you choose? If you are trying to keep your weight down, your best option is a package of nuts.

Dr. Joan Sabate and a team from Loma Linda University in California studied data on just more than 800 Seventh-day Adventist men and women in the US who were enrolled in a separate study. The researchers found that those who ate the most tree nuts (ie: almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and walnuts) were between 37-46% less likely to be obese.

Nut-eaters also were less likely to have metabolic syndrome risk factors, which includes high blood pressure and high blood sugar. For every one-ounce serving consumed per week, a person’s risk of having metabolic syndrome dropped by 7%.

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Consistent evidence for the health benefits of nuts has been accumulating since the early 1990s. Another recent study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nut eaters lived longer as they were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.

Yes, an ounce of nuts has 160 to 200 calories, nearly 80 percent from fat. However, the fat source is the “good” monounsaturated fat, beneficial to your cardiovascular system. This type of fat does not raise harmful LDL cholesterol but maintains levels of protective HDL cholesterol. Plus there are omega-3’s which can lower triglycerides and blood pressure. Nutty snacks also contain plant sterols which can lower cholesterol levels as well.

Nuts also provide fiber and protein which helps to suppress hunger between meals. Therefore, over the course of the entire day, even if your mid-afternoon snack is a little high in calories, your total daily intake is likely to be lower than if you much instead on chips, cookies or candy.

Journal Reference:
Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Ella Haddad, Keiji Oda, Gary E Fraser and Joan Sabate. Tree Nuts Are Inversely Associated with Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: The Adventist Health Study-2. PLOS One. Published: January 08, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085133

Additional Resources:
NY Times: Snacking your way to better health.

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