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Go Nuts for Nuts!
What if you knew that those delectable nuts – that you have been trying to avoid since the over-indulgent seasonal festivities – are a super food not to be feared? While you still won’t live forever crunching away on nutty goodness, research shows they do offer various health benefits that help to promote longevity. Nut consumption is related to a decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
They have a stunning nutrient profile: rich in sources of healthy unsaturated fats in addition to several non-fat constituents such as plant protein, fiber, vitamins (eg: niacin, vitamin E), minerals (eg: copper, magnesium, manganese, calcium), plant sterols (AKA “cholesterol lowering constituents”) and phytochemicals.
But, nuts are energy-dense, high-fat foods and, typically, the consumption of high calorie food is associated with weight gain and obesity. So it seems logical that nut consumption should equate to a larger waistline. Not so! Even researchers were surprised to observe that this calorically dense food does not add inches to the waistline as would be expected. In fact, nut consumers tend to be leaner than those who do not regularly consume nuts.
Various trials involving nut consumption reveal that daily nut intake results in either: weight loss, no weight gain, or (rarely) less weight gain than predicted from the additional energy intake. Why? A few reasons: the high protein and fiber content in nuts, combined with the hormones released due to the crunchy chewing, stimulates a sense of fullness which may result in eating less calories from other foods; studies also suggest that nut consumption may boost metabolism and thereby increase energy loss.
What else should make you nutty for nuts? Their wonderful nutrients can decrease inflammation in the body, increase antioxidants in the blood (gram for gram, many nuts are on par with broccoli and tomatoes!), prevent atherosclerosis, decrease total cholesterol, decrease “bad” cholesterol, and reduce the rise in blood sugar after eating carbohydrates. What’s not to love?
Laura Stix, BSc(Hons), CCHt, ND practices family medicine in Guelph and Waterloo, Ontario. As a Certified FirstLine Therapy Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist she develops personalized lifestyle medicine programs, addressing body and mind wellness. Visit www.doctorstix.ca.