A handful of nuts a day does keep the heart doctor away – a recent study has discovered that ‘tree nuts’ help prevent heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
The researchers found that those who consumed almonds, cashews and pistachios, which are among the ‘tree nut’ family, demonstrated a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference compared to non-consumers.
As The Daily Mail writes, they were also at lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
After this research, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, experts are now recommending a daily intake of 1.5 ounces, or three tablespoons of nuts as part of a healthy diet.
Lead researcher Carol O’Neil, from Louisiana State University, explained: “One of the more interesting findings was the fact that tree nut consumers had lower body weight, as well as lower body mass index and waist circumference compared to non-consumers.”
She added: “The mean weight, BMI, and waist circumference were 4.19 pounds, 0.9kg/m2 and 0.83 inches lower in consumers than non-consumers, respectively.”
To conduct the study, researchers compared risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome of nut consumers versus those who did not consume nuts. They used data from 13,292 men and women who took part in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES).
Tree nut – almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts – consumption specifically, was associated with higher levels of good cholesterol and lower risk of chronic diseases including heart disease.
Moreover, the researchers also linked it to a lower prevalence of four risk factors for metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels and low good cholesterol levels.
Dr O’Neil said: “Tree nuts should be an integral part of a healthy diet and encouraged by health professionals—especially registered dietitians.”
Maureen Ternus, executive director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF), is sure that the recent data will help in future.
She said: “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, claims The Huffington Post.
That time the researchers managed to find 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.
Moreover, scientists hailed walnuts as the latest superfood for reducing the risk of prostate cancer. To conduct the study, the researchers put 22 MetS patients on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of patients who were given a nut-free diet.
After examining the patients’ urine, it was found that those consuming 30 grams of mixed nuts a day had higher serotonin levels, what means that men who eat walnuts see their prostate cancer risks drop.
Lead researcher, Christina Andris-Lacueva, confirmed: “An increased excretion of serotonin metabolites was associated for the first time with nut consumption.”