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The Benefits of Adding Nuts to Your Diet

Q: My daughter and I love eating nuts, especially during the holidays. But we usually try to hold ourselves back and refrain from eating them. I have metabolic syndrome and think that nuts probably aren’t good for my condition. My daughter thinks that they are fattening. Are we right about nuts?

A: No. The truth about nuts is quite contrary to what you and your daughter believe. According to the research, nuts and seeds are some of the best foods you can eat for overall health, metabolic syndrome, and weight loss!

To Avoid Nuts Is Just Plain Nuts Most people don’t realize it, but a low intake of nuts in the diet is a major killer. The 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study, the most comprehensive analysis of the causes of death ever undertaken, involved nearly 500 researchers and examined nearly 100,000 data sources. The study calculated that not eating enough nuts and seeds was a leading dietary risk factor for death and disability around the world, killing more people than processed meat consumption, and more than low intake of fiber and vegetables. In fact, eating more vegetables could potentially save 1.8 million lives, but eating more nuts and seeds might save 2.5 million, according to the study. The research also found that the healthy foods missing from the most diets around the world actually are nuts and seeds!

What Makes Nuts So Healthy? They’re a source of healthy fats, dietary fiber, and vegetable protein, and they also contain numerous heart-protective vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, folic acid, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium. Nuts contain the nonessential amino acid arginine, which plays an important role in protecting the inner lining of the arterial walls, and they also contain phytochemicals, biologically active plant chemicals with high antioxidant properties that help protect against disease.

Fewer Deaths From All Causes Higher nut intake is also associated with less cancer risk and decreased risk of death from all causes, including diabetes, respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease, and infections. The authors of the 2017 meta-analysis wrote: “These findings support recommendations to increase intake of nuts to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality in the general population.”

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