The first thing that may pop into your head about nuts is that they’re not good for the heart or they are fattening and its okay, nuts got the bad rep because of the dietary fat witch-hunt. I have posted blogs clarifying the plume of doubts hovering over fats and cholesterol, you can read them to get the basics right. In this article I shall bust common myths about nuts.
To lose weight, lose nuts! : Often, when I recommend nuts to my client who want to shed few pounds, they stare at me baffled and that’s good because its and opportunity for them to learn how nuts, contrary to the popular belief, can aid in weightloss. It is true that nuts are loaded with fats, but these are good fats (pre-dominantly unsaturated fats). Being calorie dense, small amounts of fat rich foods will keep you full for longer and help fight cravings, thus reducing overall calories from munching. Plus, nuts are a great source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin E and essential minerals like selenium, manganese and copper, aiding in completing your recommended daily intakes.
Nuts are bad for health! : On the contrary, multiple studies have found that people who ate nuts regularly have reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Researchers have found that consuming nuts can lower LDL (bad cholesterol), diminish risk of blood clots and inflammation in circulatory system while simultaneously improving wall linings of arteries. Some research also suggest a positive correlation between nut consumption and lowering of type 2 diabetes markers most probably due to their low carb content, high fiber and high satiating power which results in lowering blood sugar levels along with overall calorie consumption.
Some are “good” and some are “bad” : Although some nuts like walnuts are have a higher percentage of healthy omega-3 fats, all the others have strengths of their own. It is best to have a nut mixture which will balance out all the negligible negatives and provide you with assortment of flavours and nutrients. It is best to keep salted, sweetened or chocolate coated option to a minimum.
Always have soaked nuts only in the mornings: Advocates of this practice claim that it helps remove the phytates (compound that inhibit mineral deficiencies) and improve their digestibility, but little beneficial evidence have been found through scientific studies to back it up. Unless you have a digestive problem or it is convenient for you to have them with your breakfast, nuts can be consumed at any time throughout the day without soaking as timing has no specific effect on their nutritive benefits nor does soaking.
The takeaway box:
Once you’ve got your facts straight about fats and cholesterol, I am sure you’ll have a fresh perspective about nuts (and other foods). I recommend nuts to almost all of my clients as a snack; you can make a nut mixture using all or just your favorite nuts and keep it in your bag or even in your car and have them whenever you crave a snack or feel a bit hungry. Although there is marginal increase in fat and decrease in nutrients in roasted versus raw nuts, it is also important to note that some of the fat is found to be excreted undigested. The amount that you should consume would depend on your diet and fitness goal but having two handfuls a day is absolutely fine.
References and further reading:
Haddad EH, Gaban-Chong N, Oda K, Sabaté J. Effect of a walnut meal on postprandial oxidative stress and antioxidants in healthy individuals. Nutr J. 2014;13:4. Published 2014 Jan 10. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-4
Harvard Health. 2017. Nuts And Your Health: Cracking Old Myths - Harvard Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/nuts_and_your_health_cracking_old_myths> [Accessed 27 August 2020].
Jalali-Khanabadi BA, Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Parsaeyan N. Effects of almond dietary supplementation on coronary heart disease lipid risk factors and serum lipid oxidation parameters in men with mild hyperlipidemia. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(12):1279-1283. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0693
Kasliwal RR, Bansal M, Mehrotra R, Yeptho KP, Trehan N. Effect of pistachio nut consumption on endothelial function and arterial stiffness. Nutrition. 2015;31(5):678-685. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2014.10.019
Parham M, Heidari S, Khorramirad A, et al. Effects of pistachio nut supplementation on blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial. Rev Diabet Stud. 2014;11(2):190-196. doi:10.1900/RDS.2014.11.190
Sauder KA, McCrea CE, Ulbrecht JS, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG. Effects of pistachios on the lipid/lipoprotein profile, glycemic control, inflammation, and endothelial function in type 2 diabetes: A randomized trial. Metabolism. 2015;64(11):1521-1529. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2015.07.021
Tey SL, Delahunty C, Gray A, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Effects of regular consumption of different forms of almonds and hazelnuts on acceptance and blood lipids. Eur J Nutr. 2015;54(3):483-487. doi:10.1007/s00394-014-0808-7