Whether you’re eating a handful of nuts as a snack or tossing them into your food or over a salad, nuts are jam-packed with nutrients your body needs to function properly.
Although nuts have a somewhat bad reputation for being high in fat, they primarily contain monounsaturated fat, which studies have suggested improves heart health, insulin, and blood sugar levels.
Some of the most popular nut varieties include cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. Peanuts are technically legumes. However, they’re often considered part of the nut family due to similar nutritional characteristics and texture.
If you’re looking for a tasty, nutrient-dense snack, here are six potential health benefits of adding more nuts to your diet.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
In addition to being an excellent source of folic acid, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and other essential minerals, nuts are a vital source of antioxidants.
A diet rich in antioxidants fights free radicals and oxidative stress, which could play a role in developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, cognitive decline, and age-related macular degeneration.
Research indicates that walnuts are most effective at reducing oxidative stress, ultimately decreasing the risk for cell damage and cardiovascular dysfunction.
2. May Aid in Weight Loss
Despite their high calorie levels, nuts may help you lose weight. Recent investigations have determined that tree nuts could improve weight loss and may make you feel fuller for longer.
One study analyzed 95 overweight or obese individuals between 30 and 68 years of age. Each had to follow a weight loss management program and were given a daily 1.5-ounce snack of tree nuts or pretzels over 12 weeks. A significantly lower body mass index (BMI) and lower heart rate were reported in those given nuts.
Furthermore, a research team from the University of Toronto found that eating a proper handful-sized serving of nuts was not associated with weight gain.
3. Could Help Reduce Inflammation
Nuts contain substantial omega-3 fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation occurs when the body tries to protect itself from pain and disease. However, long-term inflammation could be consequential for the body’s organs and make you sick.
According to various studies, eating foods with omega-3s could dramatically reduce inflammation biomarkers in diabetes or heart disease patients. One particular study with 67 participants between 50 and 65 years of age found that eating nuts improved plasma concentrations associated with body inflammation.
Walnuts are exceptionally high in omega-3s and are recommended as part of a diet to reduce arthritic inflammation and joint pain.
4. May Aid in Addiction Recovery
Research shows that long-term substance abuse may adversely affect a person’s nutrient intake, hormones, and body composition. As such, a nutritionally balanced diet is critical during addiction recovery.
Certain foods could be beneficial for those recovering from opioid addiction. Nuts may be a good option since they contain an abundance of healthy oils and fats, providing the necessary nourishment for the body.
Since walnuts and almonds have significantly higher nutrient absorption than pistachios, they may be the best nuts for improving gut health during treatment.
5. Could Help Lower Cholesterol
As previously mentioned, nuts contain monounsaturated fats that may decrease harmful cholesterol levels.
Pistachios have 13 grams of fat, of which 11.5 grams derive from monounsaturated fat, making them one of the most beneficial nuts to eat for lowering cholesterol.
Different studies also uncovered that almonds promote healthier cholesterol and triglyceride levels, particularly in people with metabolic syndrome.
6. May Reduce Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is several conditions that could increase one’s risk of heart attack, stroke, or developing diabetes.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11.3% of Americans have diabetes and 96 million people over 18 are pre-diabetic.
Because nuts are low in carbohydrates and have a minimal effect on blood sugar spikes, they could be among the most suitable foods for people with metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes.
Nuts also contain essential nutrients, minerals, phytosterols, and dietary fiber that are beneficial for stabilizing and improving heart health associated with metabolic syndrome.
Nuts: Delicious Snacking for Better Health
Although research continues to dig deeper into the benefits of eating nuts, plenty of evidence already proves they’re one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet. Rather than grabbing a bag of chips during your midday slump, opt for a handful of mixed nuts to nourish your body with essential nutrients.