Nuts are a very popular food. They’re tasty, convenient, and can be enjoyed on various diets — from keto to vegan. Despite being high in fat, they have several impressive health and weight benefits.
Here are the top 6 health benefits of eating nuts.
- Great Source of many nutrients.
- Loaded With antioxidants.
- Helps Promotes Weight Loss.
- Beneficial for Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
- Reduces Inflammation.
- High in Beneficial Fiber.
What Are Nuts?
Nuts are seed kernels that are widely used in cooking or eaten on their own as a snack. They’re high in fat and calories. They contain a hard, inedible outer shell that usually needs to be cracked open to release the kernel inside.
Eating mixed nuts, i.e. almonds, pistachio, cashew, peanuts, regularly may improve your health in many ways, such as by reducing diabetes and heart disease risk, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This nutritious high-fibre treat may even aid weight loss despite its high-calorie count. Fortunately, you can buy most nuts from the store already shelled and ready to eat.
Great Source of Many Nutrients:
Nuts are edible, high-fat seed kernels enclosed by a hard shell. They’re widely eaten as a snack food or used in cooking. Some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others. For instance, just one Brazil nut provides more than 100% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for selenium.
The carb content of nuts is highly variable. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts have fewer than 2 grams of digestible carbs per serving, while cashews have almost eight digestible carbs per serving. That being said, nuts are generally an excellent food to eat on a low-carb diet.
Loaded With Antioxidants:
Nuts are antioxidant powerhouses, including the polyphenols in nuts, which can combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals — unstable molecules that may cause cell damage and increase disease risk.
Research shows that the antioxidants in almonds can protect the delicate fats in your cells from being damaged by oxidation. In one study, eating almonds increased polyphenol levels and significantly reduced oxidative damage compared to a control meal.Another study found that 2–8 hours after consuming whole pecans, participants experienced a 26–33% drop in their levels of oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol — a major risk factor for heart disease.
However, studies in older people and individuals with metabolic syndrome found that cashews didn’t significantly impact antioxidant capacity, though some other markers improved. Nuts contain antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may protect your cells and “bad” LDL cholesterol from damage caused by free radicals.
Promotes Weight Loss:
Though they’re considered a high-calorie food, research suggests that nuts may help you lose weight. Almonds have consistently been shown to promote weight loss rather than weight gain in controlled studies. Some research suggests that pistachios aid weight loss as well.
One large study assessing the effects of the Mediterranean diet found that people assigned to eat nuts lost an average of 2 inches (5 cm) from their waists — significantly more than those given olive oil. In one study in overweight women, those eating almonds lost nearly three times as much weight and experienced a significantly greater waist size decrease than the control group.
What’s more, even though nuts are quite high in calories, research shows that your body doesn’t absorb all of them, as a portion of fat stays trapped within the nut’s fibrous wall during digestion. For instance, while the nutrition facts on a package of almonds may indicate that a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving has 160–170 calories, your body only absorbs about 129 of these calories.
Impressive Effects On Cholesterol & Triglycerides Levels:
Nuts have impressive effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pistachios have been shown to lower triglycerides in people who are obese and those with diabetes. In one 12-week study in obese people, those eating pistachios had nearly 33% lower triglyceride levels than in the control group. The cholesterol-lowering power of nuts may be due to their high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Almonds appear to raise “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. One study found that ground, sliced, or whole hazelnuts had similar beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Another study in women with metabolic syndrome observed that eating a 1-ounce (30-gram) mix of peanuts and pine nuts per day for six weeks significantly lowered all types of cholesterol — except “good” HDL.
Beneficial For Type II Diabetes:
Type II diabetes is a common disease affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that may increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome are strongly linked. Interestingly, nuts may be one of the best foods for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
First off, they’re low in carbs and don’t raise blood sugar levels much. Thus, substituting nuts for higher-carb foods should lead to reduced blood sugar levels. Studies suggest that eating nuts may also lower oxidative stress, blood pressure, and other health markers in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.In a 12-week controlled study, people with metabolic syndrome who ate just under 1 ounce (25 grams) of pistachios twice per day experienced a 9% decrease in fasting blood sugar, on average.
Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself from injury, bacteria, and other potentially harmful pathogens. Nuts have strong anti-inflammatory properties. However, chronic, long-term inflammation can cause damage to organs and increase disease risk. Research suggests that eating nuts may reduce inflammation and promote healthy ageing.
In a study on the Mediterranean diet, people whose diets were supplemented with nuts experienced a 35% and 90% decrease in the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6), respectively inflammation in healthy people and those with serious conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.
High in Beneficial Fiber:
Fibre provides many health benefits. While your body can’t digest fibre, the bacteria that live in your colon can—many types of fibre function as prebiotics or food for your healthy gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria then ferment the fibre and turn it into beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs have powerful benefits, including improving gut health and reducing your risk of diabetes and obesity.
Plus, fibre helps you feel full and reduces the number of calories you absorb from meals. One study suggests that increasing fibre intake from 18 to 36 grams daily may result in up to 130 fewer calories absorbed. Here are the nuts with the highest fibre content per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving:
Almonds: 3.5 grams
Pistachios: 2.9 grams
Peanuts: 2.6 grams
Reduces Risk Of Heart Attack:
Nuts are extremely good for your heart. Several studies suggest that nuts help lower heart disease and stroke risk due to their benefits for cholesterol levels, “bad” LDL particle size, artery function, and inflammation. Studies found that small, dense LDL particles may increase heart disease risk more than larger LDL particles.
Interestingly, one study on the Mediterranean diet found that people who ate nuts had a significant decline in small LDL particles and an increase in large LDL particles and “good” HDL cholesterol levels. In another study, people with normal or high cholesterol were randomly assigned to consume either olive oil or nuts with a high-fat meal.People in the nut group had better artery function and lowered fasting triglycerides than the olive oil group — regardless of their initial cholesterol levels.
The Bottom Line:
Eating nuts regularly may improve your health in many ways, such as by reducing diabetes and heart disease risk, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This nutritious high-fibre treat may even aid weight loss — despite its high-calorie count. As long as you eat them in moderation, nuts make for a tasty addition to a healthy, balanced diet.