Some people think of nuts as those annoying chunks that get in the way of delicious, chocolaty brownies. But others love nothing more than tossing back a handful of almonds or cracking open some pistachios as a light snack. Whatever your relationship is with nuts, know that they're very good for you.
How exactly do nuts benefit your health? Here are five of the most promising ways.
1. Reduce risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome
In a recent study by Loma Linda University, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that eating tree nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts reduced cases of metabolic syndrome and obesity. One ounce of tree nuts a week was enough to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by 7 percent. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that can increase a person's chances of developing chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
2. Reduce risk of pancreatic cancer
A study released by the British Journal of Cancer found that women who ate at least two 1-ounce servings of nuts per week had a significantly reduced risk of pancreatic cancer compared to women who didn't eat many nuts. Increased nut intake has been associated with a reduced risk of diabetes mellitus, which is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
3. Reduce cardiovascular risk
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health looked at the effect of eating nuts on cardiovascular health and found that nuts are beneficial, especially for those at risk for heart disease. They contain heart-healthy fats and may help lower cholesterol, improve blood vessel function, protect against irregular heart rhythms and lower cardiovascular risk. However, nuts are high in calories, so the researchers stressed that increasing your intake should involve cutting back on something else in your diet.
4. Ease impact of stress
Stress has a number of negative effects on the body, and eating nuts can help combat some of them. For one, their high levels of vitamin E, vitamin B and magnesium help boost the immune system, which is more susceptible to illness during periods of high stress. Eating nuts can also help lower your blood pressure, which spikes in the presence of adrenaline produced by stress.
5. Boost and maintain weight loss
If you're looking to lose a few pounds or have recently lost some and need to maintain your goal weight, consider adding nuts to your diet. Trials comparing weight loss through regimens that included or excluded nuts showed that people had greater compliance and more weight loss when nuts were included.