Thursday, December 5, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Eating Nuts Is Good for You!

From Brad Gouthro Fitness

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that eating nuts on a daily basis may increase longevity!  The study analyzed data on almost 120,000 healthy adult men and women for nearly 30 years.  Over the course of this period almost 28,000 of these people died, but those who consumed at least one one-ounce serving of nuts (about a small handful) at least seven times a week were 20% less likely to have died for any reason compared to those who never ate nuts.  In fact, even those who consumed nuts less than once a week had a 7 percent reduction in mortality rate.  Those who ate nuts at least five times a week decreased their risk of death from heart disease by 29%, from respiratory disease by 24%, and from cancer by 11%.

Nuts are a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and other important nutrients.  It has been suggested by other studies that they are helpful in preventing heart disease and diabetes.  Any type of nut can be beneficial, although some, such as walnuts, do seem to contain a greater amount of healthy nutrients than others.  Regular consumption of nuts may aid in the reduction of LDL as well as the prevention of blood clot formation in the blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack.  Nuts do contain a lot of fat, and although it is better than saturated or trans fats, overconsumption should be avoided.  A small handful a day, eaten instead of unhealthy processed or saturated fat-filled snacks, seems to supply all of the benefits from nuts with a reasonable calorie count.

While the study is one of the most comprehensive done to date, as with any research there are some cautions when interpreting the importance of the findings.  The researchers did try to control for other contributing factors when analyzing the data (such as those people who exercised versus those who did not), but all of the data came from questionnaires filled out by the participants, and information collected in this way is not always accurate.  Also, types of nuts eaten and their method of preparation (raw or roasted, salted or not) were not specified.  The study was funded in part by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation which could be considered a bias factor.  Nevertheless, there seems to be a growing body of evidence from this study as well as others that, far from being just an unhealthy snack food, nuts can and should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, as long as you are not allergic to them.  The fact that they are also delicious is just an added bonus!

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