Nuts just got even better
Most people are nuts about nuts. They can’t resist getting more than a handful when presented with a bowl of nuts. They are delicious and are hard to resist.
Of course, there are some people who will eat only some kind of nuts – the “healthy kind” – and nuts like peanuts, which are actually legumes, are relegated to the bottom shelf, often labelled as “unhealthy” or too “fatty”. But science tells us that nuts are extremely healthy. So far research has shown us that nuts reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer due to their high fibre content, low saturation of fats and high levels of antioxidants – even more than fruits and vegetables combined.
Now, new research shows that nuts may be even more healthier than we think.
Researchers analysed 29 existing studies from around the world to track down associations between nut consumption and risk of various illnesses.
To do this, they examined various studies from PubMed and Embase database to understand the link between nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer cases and causes of mortality from a variety of causes such as respiratory disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, infectious disease and kidney disease. A total of 819,448 participants with over 12,300 cases of coronary heart disease, more than 9200 cases of stroke, more than 18,600 cases of CVD and around 18,400 cases of cancer were analysed for researchers to conclude that a handful of nuts is more than enough to cut the risk of various diseases.
With high fibre content, low saturation of fats and high levels of antioxidants, nuts are associated with a 22 percent decrease in all-cause mortality risk.
The research included all kinds of nuts – hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts and pine nuts, and included peanuts.
Researchers found that consuming a handful of nuts, as little as 20 grams daily, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by almost 30 per cent, the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 21 per cent and the risk of all cancers by 15 per cent, and produce an overall 22 per cent decrease in the risk of all-cause mortality. The risk of diabetes was shown to reduce by 40 per cent and the risk of infectious disease by 75 per cent – all this from a handful of nuts.
While both tree nuts and peanuts were linked to the reduction of the risk of coronary heart disease, CVD and mortality, only peanuts reduced the risk of stroke. On the other hand, only tree nuts showed a decrease in the risk of cancer.
Nuts and peanuts are high in fibre, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats, which are all essential nutrients beneficial for decreasing cardiovascular disease risk and reducing cholesterol levels.
Mixed nuts showed an improvement in insulin resistance and a decrease in inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome.
Some nuts like walnuts and pecan nuts can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk, as they are high in antioxidants.
And, even though nuts are quite high in fat, they are also high in fibre and protein – with some studies suggesting that nuts may eventually reduce the risk of obesity.
So, the next time you encounter a bowl of nuts including peanuts, don’t hesitate to snack on them. Add a dash of nut oil to your salads of a handful of nuts to your Mediterranean dish, not only to improve your memory but to enjoy all the positive health benefits.
Source: BMC Medicine
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