I’ve long advocated eating nuts for better health. Nuts are my primary snack food, and are one of the reasons that I lost 50 pounds over the past three years. I eat at least a cup of mixed nuts; cashews, macadamias, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, and pecans-occasionally pistachios. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine followed 119,000 men and women for 30 years. Those who ate nuts seven or more times a week were 20% less likely to die from any cause during the study period than those who didn’t eat nuts (there is an excellent article on nuts as a superfood in the March 15, 2014 issue of Bottom Line Personal). Nut eaters tend to be slimmer (I remember when I was told not to eat many nuts because they make you fat), have better cholesterol levels, less arterial inflammation, and better blood sugar levels than people who don’t eat nuts. I recommend eating a variety of nuts daily, because each have their own superpowers. Macadamia nuts: a great source of omega-6 fatty acids, manganese (bone builder), magnesium, thiamine, and are a great source of fiber. Macadamias are also a strong anti-inflammatory food. Brazil nuts: Are higher in selenium than just about any other food. Selenium reduces cholesterol and decreases the risk for blood clots. For men, the body needs selenium to produce testosterone, the hormone that helps maintain bone density, muscle strength, and sex drive. I eat 2-4 Brazil nuts daily. Pecans: Are high in manganese and magnesium, thiamine, omega-6 and omega-3’s, and are found to be protective against cataracts and macular degeneration. At the top of the pack of nuts for antioxidant quantity. Almonds: High in manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin E, and omega-6’s. Almonds reduce LDL cholesterol; a handful of almonds lowered LDL by 4.4%, 2 handfuls lowered it by 9.4%. Cashews: Are good for the eyes and the heart. Surprisingly, cashews are one of the lowest fat nuts. They are also a dieters best friend. Cashew consumption causes the body to release cholecystokinin, a hormone that tells the brain the tummy is getting full. Caveat; you have to eat them slowly to allow the hormone to kick in. Walnuts: Are a rich source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a plant-based form of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Walnuts prompt a rise in HDL cholesterol and a drop in LDL. The fatty acids in walnuts may also slow the progression of arterial plaques that produce clots, and also reduce inflammation. Remember, inflammation is the root cause of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. Pistachio nuts: Are high in arginine, an amino acid used to produce nitric oxide (NO). NO is a gas that causes blood vessels to dilate, and is great for heart health. Pistachio’s also help men with erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow, and increases HDL, which prevents cholesterol from clogging arteries in the penis. And finally, Peanuts: Are rich in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant that reduces inflammation (also found in the skin of red grapes). Peanut eaters (and other nut eaters) were less likely to develop diabetes. Go nuts for nuts.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.