Interesting facts and information about nuts and their potential benefits to your health.
Nuts are proven to be a healthful addition to most people’s diets.
Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears is groundless. In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.
Researchers found that people who eat nuts regularly have lower risks of heart disease. In 1996, the Iowa Women’s Healthy Study found that women who eat nuts >4 times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart disease. Two years later, another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found a similar result in another group of women subjects. Furthermore, potential heart health benefits of nuts were also found among men. In 2002, the Physician’s Health Study found that men who consumed nuts 2 or more times per week had reduced risks of sudden cardiac death.
This protective effect may be attributable to the healthy fat profile of nuts, or it may be the result of the vitamin E and fiber found in nuts, both of which can help stave off heart disease; perhaps it’s these several attributes combined and even other as yet unidentified ones that played a role. Other studies have demonstrated that adults with a high blood cholesterol level can lower both their total and LDL cholesterol levels by substituting nuts for other snack foods.
Most nuts are also chock-full of protein, and the type of protein in nuts is rich in arginine — a precursor to the substance nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels in the body, and lower blood pressure. Finally, most nuts are excellent sources of fiber and vitamins
Nuts being loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium, help mop away the infamous free radicals, reducing your risk to cancer and to all kinds of aging-related degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, arthritis, etc. Nuts also seem to prevent the formation of gallstones due to their high magnesium content.
Four other large studies have since confirmed the benefits to the heart of nut eating. In addition to the cardiac benefits of consuming nuts, the risks of having a stroke, of developing type 2 diabetes, of developing dementia, of advanced macular degeneration and of gallstones have all been found to be lowered by eating nuts. Calculations suggest that daily nut eaters gain an extra five to six years of life free of coronary disease and that regular nut eating appears to increase longevity by about 2 years. Adding 30 g/day of nuts to a Mediterranean diet resulted in significant reversal of the metabolic syndrome, and consuming pistachio nuts is reported to improve erectile function in men.
The studies above suggest that 30 to 60 grams (1-2oz) of nuts should be consumed daily to gain the maximum benefits seen. Whether even larger amounts confer further benefits is currently unknown.
Best nuts for your health – walnuts, almonds, pecans, chestnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachio nuts, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts.
Nuts nutritional information – nuts nutrition facts
Almonds: A one ounce serving is about 24 nuts with 6 g. protein, 160 calories, and 9 g. monosaturated fat. Almonds are loaded with vitamin E (an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease and cancer) and magnesium (strengthens bones).
Brazil Nuts: A one ounce serving is about 8 nuts with 4 g. protein, 190 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Brazil nuts are packed with selenium (an antioxidant) and phosphorus (strengthens bones and teeth & assists with energy metabolism.
Cashews: A one ounce serving is about 18 nuts with 4 g. protein, 160 calories and 8 g. monosaturated fat. Cashews are rich in selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Hazelnuts: A one ounce serving is about 20 nuts with 4 g. protein, 180 calories and 3 g. monosaturated fat. Hazelnuts contain large amounts of vitamin E.
Macadamias: A one ounce serving is about 12 nuts with 2 g. protein, 200 calories and 17 g. monosaturated fat. Macadamias have the highest level of unsaturated fat (cholesterol lowering).
Peanuts: (not actually a nut, but a legume, though often thought of as a nut so here it is). A one ounce serving is about 28 nuts with 7 g. protein, 170 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Peanuts are a good source of vitamin B3 (promoting healthy skin), vitamin E and zinc (renewing tissue), potassium (muscles) and vitamin B6 (immunity).
Pecans: A one ounce serving is about 20 halves with 3 g. protein, 200 calories and 12 g. monosaturated fat. Pecans are packed with vitamin B1 (thiamine energy) and zinc.
Pistachios: A one ounce serving is about 45 nuts with 6 g. protein, 160 calories and 7 g. monosaturated fat. Pistachios are full of phosphorus.
Walnuts: A one ounce serving is about 14 halves with 4 g. protein, 190 calories and 2.5 g. monosaturated fat. Walnuts are rich in Omega-3s (reducing fat and cholesterol).
Precautions – Hidden Nuts Danger
Aflatoxin, a known carcinogen produced by a mold that grows naturally on peanuts, can be a problem. Discard peanuts that are discolored, shriveled, or moldy or that taste bad. And stick to commercial brands of peanut butter. A survey found that best-selling brands contained only trace amounts of aflatoxin, but supermarket brands had five times that much, and fresh-ground peanut butters — like those sold in health-food stores — averaged more than ten times as much as the best-selling brands.
Another Hidden Danger with Nuts is Phytic Acid (Reduced Mineral Absorption and Enzyme Inhibitors)
Phytic acid is a substance found in nuts that prevents premature germination and stores nutrients for plant growth.Research has shown that it also reduces the absorption of the important minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc when consumed by humans.Phytic acid also has potential to reduce the digestibility of protein and can cause a wide variety of issues including skin problems, impaired appetite, mental fatigue, altered gene expression, and impaired immunity due to zinc deficiency,anemia and poor development in infants and children due to iron deficiency,and increased risk of rickets and bone softening due to calcium deficiency
Most fresh nuts are available only in the fall and winter. Shelled nuts can be purchased anytime. Look for a freshness date on the package or container. If you can, check to be sure there aren’t a lot of shriveled or discolored nuts. Be wary if you buy your nuts in bulk; they should smell fresh, not rancid. Rancid nuts have a bitter, unpleasant oily taste. A rancid nut can ruin an otherwise perfectly prepared dish, so always taste several nuts from the batch before you use them. Rancidity cannot be reversed. You must protect nuts from rancidity. Nuts in their shells can be kept for a few months in a cool, dry location. But once they’ve been shelled or their containers opened, the best way to preserve them is to refrigerate or freeze them.
Symptoms after eating of rancid or moldy nuts
Symptoms can range from hives to gastric upsets, to swellings of the lips, eyes, tongue, eventually causing breathing problems
Eating nuts and allergies
Since 90% of food allergies in the U.S. have been associated with 8 food types as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it is these 8 food types that are considered to be major food allergens in the U.S. and require identification on food labels. The 8 food types classified as major allergens are as follows: (1) wheat, (2) cow’s milk, (3) hen’s eggs, (4) fish, (5) crustacean shellfish (including shrimp, prawns, lobster and crab); (6) tree nuts (including cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts); (7) peanuts; and (8) soy foods.
Food allergy symptoms may sometimes be immediate and specific, and can include skin rash, hives, itching, and eczema; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; tingling in the mouth; wheezing or nasal congestion; trouble breathing; and dizziness or lightheadedness. But food allergy symptoms may also be much more general and delayed, and can include fatigue, depression, chronic headache, chronic bowel problems (such as diarrhea or constipation), and insomnia. Read more about allergic reactions to strawberries
Be extremely careful in consuming nuts if you think you may be allergic to some of them.