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The Health Benefits of Nuts

Go Nuts!

Nothing nutty about it — these notoriously high fat snacks have the potential to promote heart health. A past Harvard study, reported in the September 2006 issue of Longevity, found that women who ate at least 142g of nuts a week, were 35% less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate less than 28g a month.

In addition, nuts have lots of protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Therefore, nuts deserve a honored spot in the kitchen of every healthy eater (as long as you're not allergic, of course). Stick to the raw, unsalted variety.


Walnuts are especially great because they have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Other nuts don't.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in fatty fish like tuna and salmon. We know that omega-3 fatty acids lower levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the bloodstream. Experts are not exactly sure how. Omega-3 fatty acids may also slow down the growth of plaques in the arteries and reduce swelling throughout the body.


Many studies show that almonds have real health benefits too. Almonds are a good source of protein and are high in antioxidants, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron as well as vitamin E. Like other nuts, they also provide a good source of monounsaturated fat — the good fat that is needed for heart health.

One researcher, David Jenkins MD, has done many studies of the effects of almonds. In a 2002 study, he tested 27 men and women with high cholesterol over three months. People who ate about a handful of almonds a day lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by 4.4%. Those who ate two handfuls lowered it by 9.4%. The results were published in the journal Circulation.

Studies presented at the 2006 Obesity Societies Annual Scientific Meeting (NAASO) showed evidence that almonds help to satisfy hunger. In fact, eating a handful of almonds a day could play a valuable role in weight management.

Brazil Nuts

Another must are Brazil nuts. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois in the US suggests that Brazil nuts may play a vital role in preventing breast cancer. According to the scientists who carried out the study, this benefit is probably a result of the high amounts of selenium they contain.

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralise harmful free radicals that can attack healthy cells and increase the risk of serious conditions like heart disease and cancer — including breast cancer as already mentioned, and lung, bowel and prostate cancer.

Cashew Nuts

Cashew nuts are significant sources of (1.) iron, essential for red blood cell function and enzyme activity, (2.) magnesium, which promotes energy release and bone growth, (3.) phosphorus, which builds bones and teeth, (4.) zinc, essential to digestion and metabolism and (5.) selenium.

The list of health benefits attached to each individual nut is endless. Obviously it goes without saying that nuts should not be eaten by anyone with an allergy to them. The British Nutrition Foundation recommends that if you have a family history of nut allergies you should avoid nuts when pregnant and should not give them to your children to eat in their early years.

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