‘Tree Nuts' Stave Off Heart Disease, Diabetes And Obesity, Claims Study

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 13/04/2012 17:12 Updated: 13/04/2012 17:12

A handful of nuts a day really does keep the heart doctor away - as ‘tree nuts’ help prevent heart disease, obesity and diabetes, a recent study has discovered.

Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts are among the ‘tree nut’ family that contain high levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (good cholesterol) and low levels of C-reactive proteins (the main cause of inflammation in the body and heart).

Scientists from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center are dubbing these health-boosting nuts the latest ‘superfoods’ for healthy hearts after testing their benefits on over 13,000 participants.

Another additional health bonus of snacking on nuts is they can maintain a trim waistline too, as researchers discovered that regular ‘tree nut’ consumption led to lower risk of abdominal obesity.

Researchers also discovered that nut eaters have a 5% lower chance of developing metabolic syndrome (a clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and chosterol).

“One of the more interesting findings was the fact that tree nut consumers had lower body weight, as well as lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference compared to non-consumers,” study author Carol O’Neil said in a statement, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Maureen Ternus from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation said in a statement: “In light of these new data and the fact that the FDA has issued a qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease with a recommended intake of 1.5 ounces of nuts per day, we need to educate people about the importance of including tree nuts in the diet.

However, this isn’t the first time nuts have been credited for their weight-loss abilities. Last year, the University of Barcelona discovered that eating a small portion of mixed buts a day helps aid weight-loss.

Scientists have found a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin, a hormone that is most commonly known for boosting happiness but also decreases appetite and improves heart health.

Walnuts hit the headlines recently after scientists hailed them as the latest superfood for reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

According to researchers from the University of California Davis, men who eat walnuts see their prostate cancer risks drop.

They also benefit from the nut's vitamin-packed health boosts, such as omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation-fighting vitamin E and a plentiful of antioxidants.

Health benefits aside, nuts are most notorious for their high calorie-count. Take a look at how many calories your favourite nut contains, according to the WeightLossResource (based on 100g and unsalted):

  • Almonds: 611kcal
  • Brazil nuts: 687kcal
  • Cashew nuts: 584kcal
  • Chestnuts: 170kcal
  • Hazelnuts: 655kcal
  • Walnuts: 691kcal

Take a look at how you can reap the health benefits of nuts.

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  • How Nuts Can Help Your Health

  • Walnuts

    According to recent research, walnuts are the superfood for reducing the progression of prostate cancer. Scientists from the <a href="http://www.ucdavis.edu/" target="_hplink">University of California Davis</a> found that walnuts decrease the levels of endothelia - a substance that increases inflammation of blood vessels which is high in men with prostate cancer. Walnuts are also packed with other health-boosting properties like omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for maintaining good heart health, inflammation-fighting vitamin E and polyphenol plant compounds which act like antioxidants.

  • Almonds

    Just a small handful of almonds is enough to give you almost 25% of your daily amount of magnesium and has more bone-strengthening calcium than a glass of cow's milk. Almonds are also a great source of antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium. Due to their high fibre content, they are also a good colon cancer preventative and help lower cholesterol.

  • Peanuts

    Unsalted, ordinary peanuts are a brilliant source of monounsaturated fats which help keep the heart healthy as they contain resveratrol - the phenolic antioxidant also found in red grapes. According to research by the <a href="http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/" target="_hplink">Nurses' Health Study</a>, people who eat peanuts frequently, significantly reduce their risks of cardiovascular disease.

  • Pecan Nuts

    Pecan nuts are an excellent source of over 19 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, which protects the skin from UVA damage and is proven to help lower the risks of Alzheimer's disease plus folic acid and calcium to name a few. According to recent research by the <a href="http://www.ilovepecans.org/" target="_hplink">National Pecan Shellers Association</a>, pecan nuts are also proven to significantly help lower cholesterol.

  • Brazil Nuts

    A single Brazil nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that may play a role in preventing breast cancer. These nuts are extremely nutrient-rich and according to previous research by the <a href="http://illinois.edu/" target="_hplink">University of Illinois</a>, they could help prevent breast cancer due to their super-strength antioxidant levels.

  • Cashew Nuts

    Nearly 90% of the unsaturated fat in cashew nuts is oleic acid - the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. Cashew nuts are also a great source of magnesium, which regulates high blood pressure, helps treat Type 2 diabetes and prevents cardiovascular disease.

  • Pistachio Nuts

    According to research by <a href="http://www.psu.edu/" target="_hplink">Pennsylvania State University</a>, a handful of pistachio nuts could help destroy bad cholesterol that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. This is because pistachios contain rich amounts of antioxidants beta-carotene (which turns into vitamin A and helps ward off cancer) and gamma-tocopherol (common form of vitamin E that prevents from heart disease).

  • Hazelnuts

    Hazelnuts are rich in iron and proanthocyanidins (a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/19/flavonoid-rich-foods-reduce-heart-disease-diabetes_n_1216378.html" target="_hplink">flavonoid</a> that offers anti-inflammatory protection) and antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and help protect against heart disease. Hazelnuts have no cholesterol and are low in saturated fats but high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These 'healthy' fats help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and decrease the risk of heart disease.