Go Nuts

One way to take care of your health this summer is by adding nuts into your diet.  Although nuts are high in fat, they can actually help prevent obesity, and are an excellent way to care for your body.  They have incredible health benefits, including: decreasing your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and minimizing hunger pangs which can lead to over-eating. 

Nuts and Weight
Studies have found that people on a calorie-controlled, "moderate-fat" (35 percent of calories) plan that included nuts and other good fats lost as much weight as those on a 20 percent fat calorie-controlled plan.  The moderate-fat group maintained their weight-loss better than the low-fat group over the 18-month test period and beyond, probably because the "moderate-fat" group reported fewer problems with sensations of hunger than the low-fat group did.  Nuts are a delicious snack that can increase your energy and keep away hunger, two essential elements in losing pounds or maintaining your weight.

Nuts and Heart Health
Diets that include nuts help reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the leading killer of American adults.  Heart disease is considered an inflammatory condition, and nuts contain powerful anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.  Here are a few findings from recent studies:

• A study involving over 3,000 African-American men and women demonstrated that those who ate nuts at least 5 times a week decreased their risk of dying from heart disease by 44 percent, compared with those who ate nuts less than once a week.

• The results of 86,000+ women monitored over a 14-year-long Nurses' Health Study suggest that women who consume more than 5 ounces of nuts weekly lessen their risk of heart disease by 35 percent, compared with those who eat less than one ounce per month.  The risk of death from heart disease and non-fatal heart attacks similarly decreased. 

• The results of 21,000+ men in the 17-year-long Physicians Health Study showed that men who consumed nuts at least twice a week decrease their risk of sudden cardiac death by 53 percent, compared with those who rarely ate nuts.

Nuts and Diabetes
The risk for diabetes has been shown to decrease when nuts are added to a diet.  This finding is probably due to nuts' fatty acids, which enhance cell membrane structure and function.  When the cell membrane degrades, the possibility for disease and inflammation increases.  The wrong types of fats can lead to an abnormal cell membrane structure, which in turn can negatively affect insulin actions.

Adult onset diabetes (Type 2) is associated with too much saturated fat and trans-fatty acid in the diet and too little monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids.  Margarine, pre-packaged baked goods, and foods containing partially hydrogenated oils are high in trans-fatty acids, which negatively impact cell membrane structure. 

However, monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, both found in nuts, improve the power of insulin.  In the same Nurses' Health Study mentioned above, women who ate one ounce of nuts at least 5 times a week cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 27%, compared with those who rarely or never consumed nuts.