Nuts used to have a bad reputation for being high in fat. Thankfully the truth about the health giving effects of nuts are now more widely known and sales of nuts are on the increase while sales of crisps are slowly declining. Christmas is the time when nut consumption is at its peak in the UK. This is excellent news for the nation’s health. If you are not already convinced of the wonders of nuts here’s some of the latest findings:
- Eat walnuts – Eating just 7 walnuts a day has a protective effect against colon cancer. Part of the effect is caused by the walnuts acting as a prebiotic encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria. In addition they are an excellent source of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fats and have high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant (1).
- Live longer – The good news about nuts doesn’t stop at walnuts; nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of mortality from all causes! Nuts appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammation and many types of cancer. This seems to hold true even in countries where nut consumption is not combined with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle (2,3).
- Replace snacks with nuts – Other research has found that giving adults and children almonds or almond butter every day improves the overall quality of their diets. The addition of almonds means that consumption of sugary and salty snacks is reduced and, being rich in protein, healthy oils, calcium and magnesium, the overall nutrient content of the diet improves (4).
- Combine fruit and nuts – Many Christmas desserts, puddings and snacks contain both dried fruit and nuts. Research suggests that combining the two is a good way to improve overall nutritional intake and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases (5). Between them fruit and nuts supply protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.
Watch this space for a seasonal nut and fruit recipe.