Which of the three following statements do you think recently appeared in an article in The New York Times about personal health?
A. “The more vegetables people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes and especially from heart disease and stroke.”
B. “The more fruits people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes and especially from heart disease and stroke.”
C. “The more nuts people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes and especially from heart disease and stroke.”
If you answered “C,” you are correct. That doesn’t mean fruits and vegetables don’t decrease your risk of dying prematurely, but Americans have known about the benefits of fruits and vegetables for decades. Now, they’re learning more about the nutritional value and benefits of nuts. The same nuts that they were told for decades were fattening. Yes, nuts are high in fat, but eating them actually helps people lose weight because they, among other things, reduce people’s desire to eat for several hours and stabilize their blood sugar, reports The New York Times article“Nuts Are a Nutritional Powerhouse.”
The Benefits of Nuts For Your Health
The New York Times article reports that there have been eight, yes eight, recent studies that confirm the nutritional and health value of nuts. How can this be when nuts are high in fat? The key is that most nuts are “rich sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats” rather than saturated fats. In the past few decades, scientists are learning more and more that the type of fat you eat is crucial to your health.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now reports that “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Nuts also contain antioxidants, dietary fiber, and vitamins that can reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and death.
Which nuts are the best for you? “Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health” says all nuts are good for you because of their heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals,” but cites the following as the best:
- The Low Calorie Nuts: Almonds, cashews, and pistachios have only 160 calories per ounce. That’s the lowest. Almonds are also the best nuts for disease prevention, including lung cancer and age-related mental decline.
- Walnuts: They’re the best nuts for your heart because they have high amounts of alpha linoleic acid, which might reduce heart arrhythmias and inflammation in the arteries to your heart.
- Peanuts: Peanuts are the best nuts for your brain according to the Health.com article because they have a lot of folate, which “may protect against cognitive decline.”
- Pecans: A mineral that is in pecans in large quantities, beta-sitosterol, can help men reduce their risk of an enlarged prostate.
The worst nuts might be macadamia nuts because they have a lot of saturated fat and a low amount of protein.
“Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health,” a report by the Mayo Clinic, details the ingredients in nuts that are heart healthy. They include unsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and l-arginine.
“People who eat nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet can lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level in their blood,” the report says. “High LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease. Eating nuts may reduce your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also appear to improve the health of the lining of your arteries.”
The Mayo Clinic, though, only recommends eating nuts in moderation because they’re 80 percent fat. Nuts should be eaten instead of foods with a lot of saturated fats such as dairy products, eggs, and meats rather than as an additional snack, the clinic says. The American Heart Association, however, urges people to eat four servings of unsalted nuts every week.