Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN
Are you nuts for nuts? Maybe you should learn to be.
Why? Well, for starters, research shows they have just too many health benefits to ignore.
In fact, one particular study out of Spain linked eating nuts to a longer life span.
Below we’ll dig into the study and give you some suggestions on how to work these tasty nutritional powerhouses into your diet. Ready?
Nut Eaters Had a 39% Lower Risk of DeathScientists wanted to examine the effect of eating nuts on the risk of death. They analyzed the eating habits of 7,216 people between the ages of 55 to 80. They assessed their frequency of nut consumption and later followed up on their health status after an average period of almost 5 years.
They found that people who ate more than 3 servings of nuts per week had a 39% lower risk of mortality, compared to those who didn't eat them at all.1 Walnut eaters fared better with a 45% lower risk of death. All in all, participants were 55% less likely to die of cardiovascular problems and 40% less likely to die from cancer.
They also found that people who ate more nuts frequently were more physically active, had a lower BMI (body mass index) and waist circumference, and were more likely to eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, and fish.
Now that we’ve covered the scientific benefits of nuts, let’s get into the practical stuff. Hopefully these tips will help you get started in a culinary affair.
All Nuts Are Not Created EqualTake some precautions when purchasing nuts at the store. For one, make sure you avoid the heavily salted products and the nuts roasted in oil. Often, the oils used are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which aren’t all that great for you. In addition, nuts that have been roasted in oil, may contain artery-clogging oxidized fats. Overall, look for whole (not chopped) organic nuts which are lightly processed.
Go Easy on the PeanutsPeanuts are not actual nuts, they’re legumes, but since they’re so often confused as nuts, we’ll give them a brief mention.
Peanuts actually stack a good amount of arachidonic acid, an inflammatory compound which is best eaten in moderation. In addition, peanuts are susceptible to a carcinogenic mold toxin called aflatoxin. We don’t want to be too harsh on peanuts, though. They contain valuable nutrients, like resveratrol, on their skins. So an occasional treat is okay.
If you’re looking for better options, pay special attention to walnuts and pistachios. One is particularly great for your brain and heart (walnuts) and the other for your eyes. Brazil nuts are an excellent snack as well. They’re a rich source of selenium, a cancer-fighting mineral.
Raw Nuts May be RiskyIf it weren’t for the concern of raw nuts being contaminated with Salmonella or other pesky bugs, they would be ideal. But on a sanitary level, they’re a little risky.
Either way, real raw nuts are definitely hard to find. The FDA requires them to be pasteurized so they are heated or pasteurized chemically. Your best bet is the lightly steamed varieties.
Store Nuts ProperlyNuts can last a long time if they’re stored properly. Keeping them at room temperature is not the best option. They’ll spoil within several months. Placing them in the fridge however can help them last up to a year and the freezer up to two years.2
- BMC Med. 2013 Jul 16;11:164.
- Available at: http://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/files/44384.pdf. Accessed May 1, 2014.
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