May
27
2018

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

You hear from time to time that there are benefits of eating nuts. But you don’t often see more details about it. I came across an article entitled “Nut lovers rejoice: Your favorite snack protects your heart”. It stressed that nuts prevent heart attacks. I will review some of this information here, but also touch on other aspects.

What nuts contain

Nuts contain fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, folate and many minerals (zinc, potassium, magnesium). These ingredients have their own positive effects on your metabolism. For instance the fiber will lower cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, which are risk factors for heart attacks. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Here is a review that shows why eating nuts makes a difference for your health. Despite all of the good that nuts do, you need to keep an eye at the overall quantity of nuts you eat. Nuts can contain up to 80% as oil, even though they are good oils. But the extra calories associated with the oil can make you gain some weight. When you add nuts to your diet you need to subtract some of the lesser quality saturated fats, so that your overall calorie balance does not change.

How do we know that nuts are healthy?

A British study from 2016 did a meta-analysis of people who ate nuts versus people who did not include nuts in their diet. 10 studies showed that eating nuts reduced mortality from all causes by 19%. In 5 studies where cardiovascular mortality was measured, a reduction of 27% was noticeable. Congestive heart disease in 3 studies showed a reduction by 34% when the patients consumed nuts. Stroke mortality was 17% less, as 3 studies showed. This is just an example of a few studies that show how effective supplementation of your diet by a few nuts here and there can be on the general mortality. It especially applies to mortality which is due to heart disease and strokes. Other effects of nut consumption are the reduction of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and abdominal aneurysm (each by 15 to 20%).

Allergic reactions to nuts

A small percentage of people are allergic to various nuts. Nuts can cause a severe asthma attack, if the person has been sensitized to them in the past. They can cause angioneurotic edema in a small portion of people who may have inherited this condition. Tree nut allergies can cause anaphylaxis as is explained in this link.

The right dosage of nuts

This Australian website says that 30 grams of nuts, which is a handful of them would be the right dose per day. This is about 1 ounce per day. By including a variety of nuts your nutritional content will equal out. Some nuts have more calcium (almonds); others have more plant sterols (pistachios) or more fiber (pecans).

How bias can get introduced into medical literature

The Karolinska institute in Sweden analyzed the lifestyle and behavior pattern of nut lovers. Nut lovers were also into other healthy lifestyles: they smoked less than non-nut lovers. Nut lovers were leaner, physically more active and drank less alcohol.

They also ate more fruit and vegetables. Nut-lovers’ blood pressure was lower than the blood pressure of non-nut lovers. And people who consumed nuts on average had better education. Some of these lifestyle patterns can also protect the heart and contribute to less strokes. The researcher must be vigilant to control for the other lifestyle patterns except for the difference in the nut consumption when looking for the effect of nut consumption. If this is not done, there could be confounding, which introduces a bias into the final results.

Combine nut supplements and adopt a healthy lifestyle

This said, you know now about the results of good research. It is best to not be concerned about biases any more. For the average consumer it is important to apply what we know: use nuts regularly (about 30 grams per day, which is a handful). But it would not be a bad idea to adopt some of the other healthy lifestyles that nut eaters tend to have. In other words, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, cut out sugar, drink less alcohol and eat fruit and vegetables regularly. This way you will amplify the health promoting effect of the nut supplements.

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

Benefits Of Eating Nuts

Conclusion

We learnt that nut consumption is healthy. Only a small number of people who are allergic to nuts have to avoid them. The majority of people benefit from incorporating a small amount of nuts into their diet. Research has shown that it lowers mortality in general, lowers cardiovascular mortality and mortality from congestive heart disease. Eating nuts also reduced stroke mortality and lowers the risk of atrial fibrillation. When research is done, confounding factors like healthy lifestyles have to be controlled. But when an individual wants to reduce health risks, it does not harm to use healthy lifestyle factors along with nuts to reduce any risk. It will amplify the healthy effects of eating nuts.

Incoming search terms:

Dec
01
2004

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Gallbladder problems rank fairly high among health problems in Canada: nearly 20% of women and 10% of men harbor gallstones.  According to the Canadian Liver Foundation certain racial groups have an even higher incidence: in the aboriginal population between 70 and 80% are affected. Statistics in the US would be similar.
Leaders in gallstone research at Harvard Medical School came up with new studies recently from the large scale Health Professional Follow-up and the Nurses Health study with respect to how eating habits influence the formation of gallstones.

Dr. Chung-Jyi Tsai and colleagues examined the relationship between nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease. Men who consumed about 5 oz of nuts per week had a significant decrease in gallstone development than those who ate less than 1 oz per month. Women fared similarly. The 20-year study involving 80,718 female nurses found that women who consumed at least 5 oz of nuts per week had a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones requiring gall bladder surgery than those who rarely ate nuts or nut butter. It turned out that not all nuts have equal benefits. Peanuts decreased the risk only by 19%, peanut butter consumption decreased the risk by 15%, whereas other nuts lowered the risk for gallstones by 35%. Nuts offer this prevention due to a combination of fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, as well as magnesium and beneficial plant chemicals. Fats as “the good guys” in gallstone prevention may sound like a novel idea, but there are differences in fats: it is the monounsaturated fats and the polyunsaturated fats that are the winners. They are the ones that are found in nuts or vegetables, but not in meat.

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

Nuts To Bust Gallstones Says Harvard

The coauthor of the Harvard study, Dr. Edward Giovanucci, points out, that a diet that is high in saturated fat (the fat which prevails in meat products) and high in refined carbohydrates (bakery products, pasta, sugar) increases the risk of gallstones. It also depends on the dosage: those who consumed a diet high in insoluble fiber decreased the risk by 17%. So, what is the reason? Insoluble fiber acts like a broom that sweeps waste out of the intestinal tract faster than a diet that lacks fiber. It also reduces the bile acid secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (harmful blood fat levels). The good news is, that you can get it all at a local supermarket. Nuts, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, whole grains like cracked wheat (as opposed to flour), beans, apples, berries and pears are all good and inexpensive sources.

For more info on gallstones: http://nethealthbook.com/digestive-system-and-gastrointestinal-disorders/gallbladder-disease/cholelithiasis/

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, November 30,2004, page 13

Last edited October 27, 2014

Incoming search terms: