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Plus, they’re also a source of plant-based protein

With Christmas around the corner, it’s time to grab your nutcracker and start snacking. Not only are nuts an excellent source of plant-based protein, but they could also have benefits when it comes to your weight and heart health. Recently released research from the American Heart Association explores why we should eat more nuts.

The report is actually based on two different studies on nut consumption. The first was one that looked at the effect that eating peanuts and other nuts had on people’s weight over a long period of time. The second study was a little more specialised, looking specifically at the impact of eating Brazil nuts rather than snacking on pretzels. Here’s what you need to know.

Snacking on nuts prevents weight gain

Participants in the first study were both male and female health professionals, all of whom filled out surveys on their dietary habits. The results showed that eating just a one-ounce serving of the above on a daily basis could lower the risk of both weight gain and obesity, in the long run. What’s more, the same study suggested that eating nuts rather than French fries or red meat could help to lower people’s overall body weights.

“People often see nuts as food items high in fat and calories, so they hesitate to consider them as healthy snacks, but they are in fact associated with less weight gain and wellness,” said Xiaoran Liu, Ph.D., study author and research associate at the nutrition department of Harvard School of Public Health.

“Adding one ounce of nuts to your diet in place of less healthy foods – such as red or processed meat, French fries or sugary snacks – may help prevent that slow, gradual weight gain after you enter adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases,” she explained.

Brazil nuts offer specific health benefits

The second study saw participants – all of whom were healthy adults – consume either 36g of pretzels or 20g of Brazil nuts extra per day. These snacks had around the same amount of calories in them. The results showed that while both snacks stopped people from being hungry, the Brazil nuts kept people fuller for longer.

Participants who ate pretzels experienced a spike in their glucose and insulin levels around 40 minutes after eating them. This side effect could be one of the early factors leading to prediabetes and diabetes. On the other hand, those who ate Brazil nuts did not see a surge in these levels at all. The results lead experts to conclude that nuts are, indeed, the healthier snack.

“While both Brazil nuts and pretzels increased a sense of fullness after they were eaten, eating Brazil nuts stabilized postprandial (after eating) blood glucose and insulin levels, which may be beneficial in preventing diabetes and weight gain,” explained Mee Young Hong, Ph.D, R.D., study author and professor at the School of Exercise & Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University.

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