March 26th, 2014
Health-conscious people and weight-watchers often say no to nuts because of the high calories. More importantly, they are hard to stop eating!
Many academic studies claim, by contrast, that nuts can help control weight. Most nuts (except for chestnut) give 500-600 kilocalories per 100 grams. One study shows that people who eat nuts weigh less than those who don’t. Research conducted among 9,000 people in Spain found that those who eat nuts at least twice a week gain less weight that those who haven’t touched nuts in two years.
Moreover, studies have suggested that adding nuts to your diet does not contribute to weight gain. A study added almonds to daily diet, adding 344 kilocalories per day and not removing anything from the diet nor including exercise. Those who received additional calories from almonds did not gain weight. Similar research was done with peanuts and walnuts. A study in Australia concludes that adding nuts to the diet does not increase weight, as believed. In fact, it might even help people shed weight.
The fibre and protein in nuts make us feel full for longer periods. Other studies found that nut-based food helps burn calories better. Moreover, fat in nuts is not wholly absorbed into the body. About 4-17% leaves the body.
Certainly, many researchers confirm that nuts can help with heart disease, especially by lowering cholesterol levels. A medical journal wrote that eating 60-90 grams of almonds, pecans, peanuts or walnuts a day can lower LDL cholesterol, and might even increase HDL cholesterol. Other nuts may have the same effect, such as macadamia and pistachio.
Most nuts have unsaturated fat which helps keep cholesterol levels at bay. Moreover, nuts are very nutritious, containing vitamin B, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and water soluble arginin, an amino acid that helps prevent blood clotting. There is also stenol which can help lower cholesterol level, and physiochemical antioxidants. Bear in mind that if you are trying to lose weight or lower cholesterol levels, do not eat more than 30-60 grams per day, or a couple of handfuls. Stay away from nuts flavoured with sugar, coconut milk or chocolate.
Vegetarians also benefit greatly from nuts, which are a great protein source. If you buy packaged nuts, check the salt content because sodium can cause high blood pressure. Nuts, like everything else in life, should be eaten in moderation. It can be really hard to stop. Before you know it, you are so full you are ready to burst, mostly through breaking wind!
All nuts are basically the same in terms of benefits, but some are more beneficial than others such as almonds which are higher in vitamin E and calcium than other nuts.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Just a few per day give 200 micrograms of selenium, the amount reported to help lower risk for prostate cancer. Cashew nuts are high in copper and zinc which help with the skin and immune system. Macadamia, the delicious nut, is highest in calories and fat content, while shell nut is lowest in both. Peanuts have many antioxidants like those found in grapes and red wine, and are highest in protein. Peanuts also have the important amino acid arginin. Walnuts have plenty of alpha-linolenic acid which is an Omega-3 fatty acid useful for the heart.
In conclusion, nuts are good for the health if:
1.Consumed moderately, not too often.
2.Eaten without flavour additives such as salt and sugar.
3.Eaten in the right amount.
4.Eaten in variety.
Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.
Reference : http://www.bangkokpost.com
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