Nuts have always courted controversy for their fattening qualities, so we’ve always been told to avoid them, but now research has given them a little bit of a lifeline, because studies now show that healthy fats and fibre in nuts, can reduce our risk of heart disease.
An international group of researchers, publishing in the journal BMC Medicine, analysed 29 studies about nuts and health outcomes to find out if there are wider health benefits from us consuming nuts. In their review, which included data on more than 800,000 people, they found significant wide benefits from us eating nuts.
People who ate about a handful of any type of nuts a day (20g) had nearly 30% lower heart disease rates, compared to people who didn’t eat nuts at all. People also had a 15% lower risk of cancer and a 22% lower risk of dying prematurely of any cause. Those who ate nuts regularly also cut their risk of dying from respiratory illnesses by nearly half and reduced their risk of diabetes by nearly 40%.
The results remained consistent in different geographical areas across a wide range of populations that were included in the study. Both men and women saw benefits, but the type of nuts consumed didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Nut-eaters consistently showed lower rates of many major diseases.
Nuts may be having these effects through their abundance in nutrients and fibre and whilst they are high in calories and fat, they contain mostly healthy fats, which can lower our risk of heart disease. Nuts also contain antioxidant properties, which fight the damage to cells that can trigger cancer.
Because they have a high fibre and protein content they may also help reduce extra weight gain, by cubing overeating. The research supported the belief that nuts are worth adding to our diets, but the benefits do have a threshold.
Those people eating more than 20 daily grams of nuts didn’t seem to show additional reduction in their risk of developing conditions, such as heart disease or cancer; or other health outcomes.
Therefore, like everything else in Nutrition, nuts are best eaten in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Source: An article by Time Magazine.