The health benefits of nuts have been overlooked for a long time with people concentrating only on their high fat content. Today, things have changed.
The health benefits of nuts are so many that experts now urge you to eat nuts to save your heart, reduce diabetes, ward off cancer, lose weight and perhaps fend off Parkinson's disease and live longer.
Nuts are definitely one of the primary ingredients of a healthy diet.
Nuts are an excellent substitute for meat, cheese and other fatty foods and satisfy the craving for fat, researchers say.
Sure, nuts contain a significant amount of fat, but it's mostly the good monounsaturated type that discourages disease.
Walnuts also contain high levels of healthy omega-3 fats.
Nuts are packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, including calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin E and with cancer-fighting, antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol.
Nuts are rich in arginine, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, which helps to lower blood pressure and deter blood clots.
Brazil nuts are also the richest source of selenium, thought to help improve mood and prevent certain cancers.
(To see the nutrition facts of individual types of nuts follow the link)
Consistently, studies find that nut eaters are from 30 to 50% less likely to develop or die of heart disease.
The Food and Drug Administration now agrees that eating an ounce and a half of nuts (about 1/3 cup or 40g) a day, including almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts, as part of a low animal fat diet, may reduce heart disease.
Further Reading: Nuts and Heart Disease
In several studies the consumption of almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts (two to three ounces or 55 to 85g a day) depressed bad LDL cholesterol by up to 29% and in some cases raised good HDL cholesterol by up to 8%.
Eating eight to eleven walnuts daily instead of other fats further lowered bad cholesterol about 6%.
Further Reading: Other Foods that Help Lower Cholesterol
A long term Harvard study of 83,000 women nurses, aged 34 to 59, found that nuts, including peanuts, significantly lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Women who ate 1 oz./30 g. of nuts more than five times a week were nearly 30% less apt to have diabetes as those who never ate nuts or ate less than an ounce a week, regardless of weight or other risk factors for diabetes.
Further Reading: Healing Foods for Diabetes
Nuts may lower the risk of colon, stomach and prostate cancer.
In India, for example, eating cashews is linked to less colon cancer, says Bandaru Reddy of the American Health Foundation.
Canadian research suggests eating nuts as well as seeds and beans can reduce risk of endometrial cancer.
When Harvard researchers analysed the diets of thousands of doctors and female nurses in the long term ongoing studies, they found that the health benefits of nuts may extend to protect against Parkinson's disease.
Individuals who ate an ounce of nuts more than five times a week, compared with those who did so less than once a month, had a surprising 43% lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Contrary to popular opinion, people who eat nuts are no fatter than those those who don't.
Studies show nut eaters are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
In a study at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, dieters on equal calories lost more weight on a diet high in monounsaturated fat, including nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, than did those on a very low-fat diet and kept it off longer.
After 18 months, high-fat nut eaters had lost nine pounds; low-fat dieters had gained more than six pounds.
Possible reasons: Purdue University research found peanut butter dampened the appetite, staving off hunger for two and a half hours compared with mere half hour for snacks such as rice cakes.
Further the fat in nuts is not totally absorbed. Peanuts have an extremely low glycemic index, meaning they don't spike blood sugar that leads to hunger and weight gain.
There are so many varieties of nuts that I'm sure you'll want to know the health benefits of each one of them. So read the article Different Types of Nuts to have a look at the health benefits of individual nuts.