The fatty, salty, creamy, savory taste and texture of nuts make them a popular snack, accompaniment with beer and an ingredient in a host of dishes. But given their high calorie and fat contents, many people still shy away from eating nuts regularly.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adults who incorporate nuts into their diets don’t have to limit their consumption. Studies found that people who added nuts to their diets and who replaced other foods with nuts, lost more weight (an average 1.4 pounds more) and reduced their waist sizes by more than half an inch.
But weight loss isn’t the only benefit found in almonds, walnuts, cashews and the like. Here are a few other health reasons:
The nutrients in several types of nuts can help protect your body against the damaging physical effects of being stressed out. Nuts rich in alpha-linolenic acid, like walnuts, have a heart-protective benefit during times of acute stress — which are known to cause cardiovascular strain.
And almonds, thanks to high vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium content can bolster your immune system when you’re stressed, reported Women’s Health.
Nuts, like almonds, hazel nuts, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews can all play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, according to a Harvard review. That’s because nuts may help reduce LDL cholesterol (more on that later), and incorporate a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and fiber, which has a heart-protective effect. Nuts are also rich in arginine, an amino acid that helps blood vessels to relax.
A diet rich in pistachios may provide some protection from lung cancer, according to preliminary research by the American Association for Cancer Research. Researchers theorize that the nut’s richness in gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E, may be the key to cancer protection, although further research is required.
Several studies have found that nuts can play a role in weight maintenance. That’s because nuts are satisfying — a “high satiety” food — that is metabolized slowly by the body, thanks to high fiber counts. In other words? Snackers are more satisfied after eating nuts than after eating foods of comparable caloric value, but less nutrient density.
A walnut a day may keep bad cholesterol away. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found a 7.4 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol and an 8.3 percent reduction in the ratio of LDL to HDL. What’s more, triglyceride concentrations declined by more than 10 percent.
Brazil nuts, which are high in the mineral selenium, may provide some protection against advanced prostate cancer, according to research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research.
Thanks to the healthy dose of vitamin E that nuts can deliver, they are considered a brain food — helping to prevent cognitive decline that happens with age. Peanuts (even though they are legumes, we commonly group them with nuts), in particular, may be a good choice because they are high in the B-vitamin folate, which improves neural health, reducing risk of cognitive decline.
Beyond protecting against age-associated problems, a British Journal of Nutrition study found that walnuts may improve working memory (not just reference memories), problem-solving and motor function.
Men’s Reproductive Health
For men looking to start a family, walnuts may have an effect on sperm quality, reported HuffPost Healthy Living’s Amanda L. Chan. Eating about two handfuls of nuts could improve the quality of sperm, in terms of its “vitality, motility, and morphology.”
What’s more, pistachios may play a role in reducing erectile dysfunction, according to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
So – Go Ahead and Eat Some More Nuts!