While nuts have long been considered a delicious and nutritious snack with many health benefits, a recent study supports the belief in how good they actually are and strengthens the value of eating nuts as part of a meal or snack for well-being.
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health found that nuts are inversely associated with total mortality in men and women. This includes tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, pine nuts and Brazil nuts. The study also states that there were significant inverse associations for deaths due to cancer, heart and respiratory disease.
While previous studies have supported the disease-protective power of nuts, this was the largest study to examine the relation between nut consumption and total mortality. The results are also consistent with previous studies. The findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity, says senior author Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The FDA recognizes that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most tree nuts including pistachios as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease.
Studies suggest that pistachios eaten in moderation may help support healthy blood glucose levels.
Emerging research suggests that the actual act of opening the shell to eat a pistachio helps to slow down the eating process.
A one-ounce serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, which is more preserving than any other snack, and provides three grams of fiber, six grams of protein, and 11 grams of heart-healthy fat for just 160 calories.
Nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats; high quality proteins; vitamins, including folate, niacin and vitamin E; minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium; and phytochemicals. All of these nutrients also offer anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, cardioprotective and antioxidant properties.
Several epidemiological studies have revealed that people who consume nuts regularly are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.
In addition to possessing cardioprotective effects, nuts generally have a very low glycemic index. Dietitians frequently recommend nuts be included in diets prescribed for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.
One study found that people who eat nuts live two to three years longer than those who do not, however, this may be because people who eat nuts tend to eat less junk food.
Other Nuts And What They Can Do For You
While the facts presented above shed a wide spotlight on pistachios, there are many other nuts that deserve attention as well. In the course of conducting significant research on the nutritional and health properties of nuts, Loma Linda University's Department of Nutrition has compiled a sizable library of biomedical and scientific journal articles on the subject.
Almonds the most nutrient-dense nut of all help lower cholesterol and are high in fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamin E.
Brazil Nuts support thyroid health and are believed to offer protection from breast and prostate cancers.
Cashews contain monounsaturated fats to help lower cholesterol and iron, zinc, folate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3s, folic acid and vitamins B, E and K.
Hazelnuts have been shown to reduce depression symptoms, help lower cardiovascular disease risks, and deliver antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels. They also contain fiber, protein, folate, potassium, arginine, and vitamins B and E.
Macadamia nuts - compared to other common edible seeds such as almonds and cashews - are high in fat and low in protein. They have the highest amount of monounsaturated fats of any known seed and contain approximately 22% of omega-7 palmitoleic acid - which has biological effects similar to monounsaturated fat. They also contain 9% protein, 9% carbohydrate, and 2% dietary fiber as well as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, iron, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin.
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals as well as protein, antioxidants, plant sterols and cholesterol-lowering compounds to protect against Alzheimer's disease and support prostate health.
Pine nuts contain thiamine (vitamin B1) and - depending on species 10 to 34% protein with Stone Pine having the highest content. They are also a source of dietary fiber and can be pressed to extract pine nut oil, which is valued for its mild, nutty flavor. One study indicates Korean pine nut oil may suppress appetite.
Walnuts deliver omega-3s to support brain health, ellagic acid for immune function and alpha-linoleic acid for protection against depression, Alzheimer's and heart disease. Raw or unroasted walnuts are found to have twice as many antioxidants as other nuts.
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