Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamias, walnuts, pecans... These days, medical research routes for nuts as nutritional powerhouses and, we have to agree, they're right. But why are they so good for our health, and how many should we be eating per day?
How many nuts should I eat per day?Let's start with the simple. The recommended daily average for nut consumption per day is 28 g/1 oz (around an adult handful). That can be of one single nut or of your favorite mix. However, as each type of nut has different nutritional credentials, we recommend either creating your favorite mix or changing it up through the week to make sure you're getting the most out of these nutritional powerhouses.
Why are nuts healthy?Well in a nutshell... nuts are a nutrient-rich food providing us with nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals, and other micronutrients that could help reduce our risk of heart diseases as well as benefit other chronic issues. Not only healthy for us but it has also been said that increasing the consumption of nuts as plant-based protein sources within your diet and reducing your intake of meat and dairy could potentially be a more sustainable way of eating for our planet.
Some top health benefits of nutsGood for your heart. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, also known as good fats, and, consuming monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving your risk factors by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (i.e. bad cholesterol) while maintaining your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (i.e. good cholesterol).
Protective antioxidants. Worried about aging? Well, look no further. Nuts can help against oxidative stress, simply put aging. They contain compounds called polyphenols which have a protective effect on the body – they do so by helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals which can cause damage. As well as this, some nuts are high in vitamin E known as a powerful antioxidant that can reduce markers of oxidative stress.
A healthy gut. There has been much emphasis on the importance of a healthy gut over the past few years. And it's true. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being. And the role nuts play... nuts are rich in fiber and polyphenols, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially benefit the good bacteria in our gut by fuelling the bacteria and helping them grow in number. Studies conducted with almonds and pistachios have reported increases in the growth of beneficial bacteria leading to increased butyrate – a short-chain fatty acid – which is thought to keep colon cells healthy.
Weight management. Nuts are energy-dense foods and are high in fat (mainly healthy fats) which can put people off when adding them into their diet. However, when eaten as part of a healthy diet and the recommended daily allowance is consumed, it has been proven that nuts do not lead to weight gain. Also, nuts contain many nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins, and minerals which may help reduce overall hunger which in turn may stop you from reaching for unhealthy sugary snacks.
Brain health. Higher nut consumption has been linked to better cognitive function in the elderly. A study has observed an inverse association between nut consumption and the prevention of cognitive decline. The findings identified that eating nuts regularly (at least once serving per week), may help boost brain function in older people.
For ideas on how to add nuts to your daily diet, check out our recipes.