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September 12, 2010, last updated February 18, 2016


By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist and Susan Callahan,
Health Editor


We should all be nutty about nuts. Why? Nuts may just be the
most important overlooked part of a healthy diet. But not very
many of us are eating nuts.  According to the US Department of
Agriculture, only 10% of Americans eat at least 1 gram of nuts
per day. Worse yet, most of the nuts we eat are processed in
other foods like peanut butter or buried under chocolate or
sugar in snacks.  

Too bad. Nuts in their whole, natural form are some of the best
allies in the fight against diseases. How can nuts help o keep
you healthy? What kinds of nuts should you choose to eat if
you want to lower your risk for developing diabetes, cancer
and heart disease? Should you eat nuts if you want to lose
weight? Do nuts help to fight aging?

Nuts Are an Ancient Food

Nuts have been cultivated as food for 1000's of years. The
peanut was cultivated around 300 to 2500 years BC by the
Incas of ancient Peru, according to the University of Georgia's
Anthropology Department. The Incas cultivated peanuts and
used them in their offerings to the gods. There are several
references to nuts in the Bible, including a passage in Genesis
43:11"Then their father Israel said to them, 'If it must be, then
do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags
and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a
little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and
almonds'". In China betel nuts were cultivated as early as the
Tang (618-907 AD) and Song (960-1279 AD) dynasties, when
they were used by provincial officials as tributes to the royal
court.


Did you know that nuts are actually fruits? In fact, nuts are
seed forms of fruits.  Recently, according to the USDA, nuts
have become more popular in recent years due to their health
benefits.


Top 10 Health Benefits of Nuts -- What Can Nuts Do for You?

Here are 10 of the health benefits of various nuts:


























1.
Nuts That Keep Your Heart Healthy

Certain nuts can help to keep your heart healthy.  A study
conducted by the Center for Health Research, School of Public
Health, Loma Linda University, California, in 1992, investigated
if nut consumption was associated with a lowered risk of
coronary heart disease. The researchers examined 31,208 non-
Hispanic white members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church
and kept track of their daily eating habits.

Researchers discovered that those who ate nuts more than 4
times per week had fewer episodes of coronary heart disease.
The researchers concluded that it was the "healthy" fatty acids
contained in the nuts that help heart health.  

Which nuts are best for heart health? Walnuts have one of the
highest concentrations of
omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to
walnuts, the Food and Drug Administration also recommends
almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts and
pistachio nuts for a healthy heart.

Walnuts and hazelnuts, uniquely among nuts, contain high
amounts of a phenol compounds which have been linked to
lower heart disease, according to a 2013 joint study from the
University of Parma in Italy and the University of Reading in the
UK. These phenols are related to gallic acid and are called
"elligitannins".

Just 4 walnuts provide 400 milligrams of elligitanins, about as
much as you would get in a glass of pomegranate juice.


2.
Nuts Can Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

Try eating almonds to fight diabetes. Almonds actually help to
prevent Type 2 diabetes, according to a study conducted by
Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Home Science,
India in 2009.  How many almonds should you eat to fight
diabetes?  The optimal amount is 10 grams, about a half a
handful. Consuming 10g of almonds lowered fasting blood
sugar by 26 mg/dL in the study.

[Update:

Walnuts lower your risk for developing diabetes, a 2013 study
from Harvard School of Public Health Found. The study
followed 79, 893 women ranging from 35 to 52 years old and
58,063 women aged 52 to 77 years old. Every 4 years, the
scientists noted the how many of the women developed Type 2
diabetes.

Compared to women who never ate walnuts, those who ate
walnuts more than 2 servings per week had a 33% lower
occurrence of diabetes. Those who ate walnuts once a week
had a 19% lower risk for diabetes and those who ate a serving
of walnuts only once per month had a 7% lower risk diabetes
risk.  In this study, a serving size of walnuts was one ounce,
which is 28 grams.]


Peanuts also help to prevent diabetes. A 2002 study conducted
by the Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard
School of Public Health, in 2002 found that peanuts can
prevent type II diabetes. The subjects consumed around 20g
of peanuts per day to achieve the desired results of lowered
blood sugar similar to the above mentioned study.

Update: Read more about
foods that help control your blood
sugar levels.


3. Nuts to Reduce Your Blood Pressure

Can nuts lower your blood pressure? Absolutely. The National
Institutes of Health recommend nuts to reduce blood pressure
due to the fact that nuts contain healthy fats.

Cashews can lower your blood pressure.  A study conducted by
the Northwestern University in Chicago, in 2007, found that
nuts can reduce blood pressure by as much as 70%. Cashews
contain
magnesium which can help maintain healthy blood
pressure. Cashews contain around 75mg of magnesium, which
is 19% of  your recommended daily allowance of 400mg per
day.

Update: You would have to eat about a half a cup of cashews
to obtain 25% of the recommended daily amount of
magnesium.

Other nuts that are high in magnesium are walnuts and
almonds.

4.
Nuts to Lower Cholesterol

Here again, walnuts are the nut of choice.  A study conducted
by Barcelona's Hospital Clinico in 2006 found that
walnuts
were even better than olive oil at reducing cholesterol.
The
researchers tested the difference between the two when added
to a high fat meal. The researchers found that, unlike olive oil,
walnuts helped the elasticity of arteries and therefore lessened
the amount of cholesterol that formed.

So, grab a handful of walnuts to keep your arteries from
hardening and to lower your cholesterol.


5.
Nuts to Prevent Lung Cancer

Can any nuts help to fight cancer? The answer is "yes".
Pistachios can help prevent lung cancer, according to a 2009
study conducted at the Department of Epidemiology at the
University of Texas. How in the world can pistachio nuts
prevent lung cancer? The researchers found that it was the
high content of vitamin E that resulted in the beneficial
outcome. The subjects in the study consumed 68g of pistachios
per day.


6.
Nuts to Prevent Breast Cancer


Walnuts: A study conducted by the Marshall University School
of Medicine, in 2009, found that walnuts can ward off breast
cancer in mice. The researchers found that the subjects who
consumed 56.7g of walnuts daily had 50% fewer tumors.  


7.
Nuts to Help with Stress


Pistachios: A 10 year study conducted by Penn State University,
in 2007, found that pistachios can calm stress reactions. The
researchers found that the unsaturated fat found in the nuts
were beneficial to the body’s reaction to stress. The subjects of
the study consumed an average of 20g of pistachios per day.


8.
Nuts to Help Weight Loss


Peanuts: A study conducted by the Human Nutrition Unit,
Facultat de Medicina i Ciències de la Salut, Universitat Rovira i
Virgili, Spain, in 2003 found that nuts did not change body
weight.

Almonds: A study conducted by Center for Health Research,
School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, California,
found that an eating almonds amounting to 320 calories did not
cause weight gain.

It important to note that the FDA does not include cashews,
macadamias or Brazil nuts in their list of healthy nuts because
of the large content of saturated fat.  


9.
Nuts to Prevent Gallstones

Peanuts: A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and
Brigham and Women's Hospital, in 2004, suggested that
peanuts and peanut butter can prevent gallstones. The
researchers found that women who consumed approximately
140g of nuts per week were 25% less likely to require surgery
for gallstones.


10.
Nuts for a Healthy Rectum

Almonds: A 2008 study conducted by the University of
Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, found that nuts can
prevent diverticulosis, a disease of the colon. This study
contradicted conventional medical advice which states that you
should avoid nuts if you have diverticulosis. Nuts are naturally
high in fiber and therefore beneficial to the digestive system.
Almonds contain 11.20g of dietary fiber per 100g.

Update: The 2008 study, which was jointly conducted by a
team of researchers from many schools, including the
University of Washington School of Medicine, Harvard School of
Public Health and Harvard Medical School examined the
relationship between eating nuts, corn and popcorn and the
incidence of diverticulosis. Prior to the study, many doctors
recommended that people with diverticulosis avoid eating nuts,
corn and popcorn.

However, the 2008 study undercut the logic of that thinking.
The team examined 47,228 men aged 40-75 years  for a period
of 18 years and discovered that there was no connection
between eating nuts, corn or popcorn and your risk for
developing diverticulosis.

Brazil Nuts: A 2001 study conducted by Stanford University
found that Brazil Nuts could play a role in preventing prostate
cancer in men. The key nutrient in the Brazil Nut that may be to
thank is selenium. One unshelled Brazil nut contains 100mcg of
selenium. A shelled Brazil nut contains approximately 12-25
mcg.


The most important thing to remember is to eat the natural
form of the nut without any salt or sugar added. Also watch
the portions. Nuts are high in fat, and just a half a handful of
cuts a day is plenty. Everything in moderation.













































Related:

Almonds -Are They Good for Swelling?

Top 10 Natural Remedies to Unclog Your Arteries

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

Exercises to Increase Your Bowel Movements

Why Your Waist Size Matters / Normal Waist Size/Bowel
Movements Indicate Your Overall Health  / 3 Keys to Normal
Bowels  /  The Bowel Color Chart-- What The Color Means /
Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of
Constipation  / Child Constipation -Top 10 Natural Remedies

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Pistachios are surprisingly good at helping
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