A handful of nuts each day is good for our health and our waistline, yet why are only 2 per cent of Australians including them in their daily diet? A new report suggests it has something to do with the “f” word.
When was the last time you enjoyed a handful of nuts? (Adding the odd walnut to your breakfast cereal in a bid to boost your omega-3 fat intake doesn’t count either). Chances are you probably can’t remember and you’re not the only one. According to 2012 Consumer Insights research commissioned by Nuts for Life, 98 per cent of Australians do not eat handful of nuts a day and the number one reason is because they are concerned about their fat content and their potential to cause weight gain. However, the newly released report The 2012 Nut Report- Nuts and the Big Fat Myth is a comprehensive review of the last 20 years of published research that paints a very different picture, highlighting the weight and health benefits of including a daily handful of nuts.
Nutty Weight Benefits
Nuts are a nutrient-dense, whole food that plays an important role in our health, helping to protect against chronic disease and manage weight. According to wealth of research, compared with non-nut eaters, those who eat nuts:
- Tend to have a lower body mass index.
- Are less likely to gain weight over time.
- Tend to have a better quality diet.
- Have less incidence of chronic disease.
How Nuts Work In Weight Management
Including 30g of nuts daily as part of an energy-controlled diet can result in weight loss thanks to a few different mechanisms. While many of us are scared of the ‘f’ word, the fat content in nuts is actually a good think as research shows it has an action in releasing satiety hormones such as cholecystokinin (CCK) in the digestive tract. CCK, along with the protein and fibre found in nuts, works to reduce appetite. But there might be more to nuts’ positive effect on weight than filling power alone with other studies showing some of the fat from nuts is excreted, not absorbed. In fact, up to 15 per cent of the energy from nuts is excreted, while many studies have found nut eaters to have more fat in their stools. Then of course there’s the fact that nuts lower the glycemic response of a meal by slowing digestion of a carbohydrate-rich meal, which subsequently satisfies the appetite for longer. Along with the lower glycemic response, nuts also reduce insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity in the body. Improvements in insulin sensitivity assists in weight management through reducing chronic inflammation, which has been linked to weight gain.
Other Nutty Health Benefits
Nuts are packed full of healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. The phytochemicals offer antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, making nuts nutritional powerhouses that help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and control blood glucose levels. They really are nature’s little pills.
Go Nuts For Nuts
To enjoy the range of health benefits nuts offer, all you need to do is add a small handful (30g) of unsalted raw or dry-roasted nuts to your daily intake. You could sprinkle slivered almonds over your breakfast cereal, snack on mixed nuts mid-morning, toast pine nuts through your salad at lunch, enjoy pistachios through your low-fat Greek yoghurt or add cashews through your stir-fry. Enjoy a variety of nuts and if you get stuck for ideas, visit the Nuts for Life website and download a free nut cookbook.
Do you have a nut recipe to share?