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The Amazing Power of Nuts


By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES


If you are looking to lose weight, or supplement you diet with some healthy alternative snacks, where do you turn?  One snack that is oft-overlooked is the intake of heart healthy nuts. 

Nuts can be one of the most beneficial snacks out there, providing a many different vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that our body craves.  Read on for more helpful information on how this little powerhouse of nutrition can provide positive benefits to YOUR health!


The Good....

Looking for a healthy, low fat snack, you have come to the right place.  Even though nuts have a big warning on them for higher than normal levels of fat, the majority of nuts are full of the good fats and lower in the bad fats.  Anyone who has been looking for a great option for losing weight please read on.  

Low fat diets are great diets for people who are looking to lose weight and also for patients who have heart disease, nuts are not the enemy.  Nuts are very low in the bad fat or saturated fat, but loaded with heart health fats like mono and polyunsaturated fats.   Mono and polyunsaturated fats have been linked to increases in total cholesterol and increases in HDL cholesterol.

Research done by Griel et al, showed that supplementing the diet for 4- weeks with nuts has tremendous benefits on lipid profiles, especially LDL cholesterol.  They concluded that not only was the mono and polyunsaturated fats important in lowering cholesterol, but that nuts have may have other compounds that help alter the cholesterol levels. 

A study done on women by Jiang et al, concluded that a diet rich in nuts can also help reduce the risk of developing Diabetes.    One of the bigger concerns in this study was the level of obesity of the participants, because obesity of a higher indicator of risk for developing diabetes, but they found that increasing dietary intake of nuts did not alter body weight at all.



The Bad....

Myth: Nuts are BAD because of the high levels of fat and calorie

Two main areas of concern, aside from nut allergies, is the intake of fat and extra weight gain.   It is true that there is higher than average levels of fat in nuts of all kinds.   However, it has been said before that the quality is more important than the quantity. 

Typical nuts have higher than normal levels of the good fats, which are mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids.   Nuts are lower in saturated fats, which are the fat’s that lead to altered cholesterol levels and excess weight gain.  

Nuts are full of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fats which can lead to reduced risk of heart disease.  However, n-6 polyunsaturated fats have been linked to higher risk for inflammation.     N-3 polyunsaturated fats however, reduce the increase of inflammation and help protect the heart further by limiting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.


And the Plain Nutty....

There is one last reason why nuts are important in the diet.  Not only do nuts have the potential to help lower cholesterol and prevent metabolic disorders, but nuts can also have a satiety effect on the body.  Satiety refers to the satisfaction that happens when we eat a meal and feel full or satisfied.

Eating nuts can help us feel fuller for longer periods of time, and help us keep our waistline trim.  People who regularly eat nuts, tend not to gain weight as fast as someone who does not regularly indulge in eating nuts.  The reason for this: people who eat nuts are replacing meals or snacks that are usually higher in fat, especially saturated fats, trans-fats and sugars. 

Nuts should be a staple in everyone’s diets (except of course people who have severe allergic reactions to nuts) for the cardio-protective effects of the healthy fat levels, the satisfaction of ingesting a healthy snack and finally the potential benefits that nuts have on metabolic syndrome and Diabetes. 

The healthy fats, n-3 and n-6 fatty acids have been shown to have cardio-protective effects and have been shown to improve satisfaction and not encourage eating more.  N-3 fatty acids themselves have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-arrhythmic effects, which help prevent early mortality.

Nuts are wonderful and nutritious snacks that possess many different properties that have been shown to help make us healthier and happier.  Nuts have a direct influence on healthier bodies with added minerals, phytochemicals and nutrients that help keep our weight in check and our heart healthy and happy.

Next: Here Are Some Proven Ways To Control Hunger Without Dieting >>

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Jiang, R. Manson, J. Stampfer, M. Liu, S. Willett, W. Hu, F. Nut and Peanut Butter Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women.  JAMA. 288, pp. 2554-2560.

Ros, E. Mataix, J. Fatty acid composition of nuts-implications for cardiovascular health. British J. Nutri. 2006. 96 (2), 829-835.