Nuts are great. Nutritionally speaking, nuts are amazing. They are tasty, convenient, fit in all kinds of diets and – most importantly – they are very healthy and good for your weight. The best known nuts are almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. You might be missing peanuts in that list. Technically, peanuts are legumes like peas and beans. But they do fit into this list of nuts based on their characteristics and nutritients. Either way, here are 8 benefits of nuts and why you should eat them.
1. Benefits of Nuts: Full of Nutrients
Nuts are highly nutritious. Some nuts are higher in certain nutrients than others. But generally, nuts are rich in proteins, the right kind of fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and selenium. Brazil nuts have especially high contents of selenium. The carb content of nuts is variable but not high. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts have less than 2 grams of carbs per serving, while cashews have about 8 grams. So either way, nuts fit well in a low-carb diet.
2. Benefits of Nuts: Full of Antioxidants
Nuts are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants in nuts, including for example polyphenols, combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. That way, they reduce cell damage and disease risk. Walnuts have even more antioxidants than fish. Research shows that the antioxidants in walnuts and almonds can protect delicate fats in your cells from being damaged by oxidation. One study found that 2 to 8 hours after having pecans, participants experienced a drop of up to 33% in their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, thus helping prevent heart disease.
3. Benefits of Nuts: Help You Lose Weight
As I discussed in last week’s article, nuts can help you lose weight. In one large study, people who ate nuts as a regular part of their diet lost an average of 5 cm from their waists, a lot more than people in control groups who did not eat nuts. Almonds and pistachios particularly have shown to promote weight loss. But aren’t nuts high in calories? To an extent, that’s true. But these calories sit mainly inside the fat trapped inside the nut’s fibrous walls and those are not released in our digestive system. So no need to hold back because of the official number of calories in nuts.
4. Benefits of Nuts: Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides
As if all these benefits weren’t enough, nuts also have an impressive effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Pistachios lower triglycerides in people who are obese or have diabetes. The cholesterol-lowering power of nuts is attritbuted to the high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Almonds and hazelnuts raise “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. In one study, people eating a mix of just 30 grams of walnuts, peanuts, and pine nuts per day for six weeks significantly lowered all types of cholesterol except the good HDL. Macadamia nuts lower cholesterol levels as well.
5. Benefits of Nuts: Great at Fighting Disease
I won’t get too much into diseases here, but nuts may be one of the best foods for people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. This is because they are low in carbs and do not raise blood sugar levels much. That way, substituting nuts for higher-carb foods leads to reduced blood sugar levels. In addition, eating nuts lowers oxidative stress, blood pressure, and other health markers in people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Nuts are also extremely good for your heart. Eating nuts lowers risk of heart disease and stroke due to their benefits for cholesterol levels and inflammation. Simply put, nuts reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol and improve artery function.
6. Benefits of Nuts: Reduce Inflammation
Nuts have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is your body’s way of defending itself from injury, bacteria and other harmful pathogens. But chronic inflammation causes damage to organs and increases the risk of disease. Eating nuts can reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging. Eating nuts greatly decreases levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). This is especially true for pistachios, Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds.
7. About the Fiber in Nuts
Nuts are rich in fiber. Fiber provides many health benefits. Many types of fiber are prebiotics and good for your healthy gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria ferment fiber and turn it into beneficial fatty acids. These acids, in turn, improve gut health and reduce your risk of diabetes and obesity. Fiber also helps you feel full and reduces the number of calories you absorb from meals. That way, eating foods rich in fiber, like nuts, helps you lose weight.
Why You Should Really Eat Nuts
As you can see, regularly eating nuts will improve your health in many ways. And in addition, because they are high in fiber content, nuts will help you lose weight more easily. So if you did not include nuts in your daily diet already, this is the time to start.
Even More About Foods that Help You Lose Weight
- Check out my list of 20 food types that will increase you protein intake
- Click here if you want to increase your metabolism and burn more fat
- Click here for nine more foods that will help you lose weight
- Find our four easy ways to eat yourself to a better metabolism
- Find out more about my personal clean eating program