A Nut Primer
Why Are Nuts So Good for You?
- Nuts are such an excellent source of protein that they are put in the meat category of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.
- Nuts contain no cholesterol, and are good sources of minerals and nutrients.
- Nuts are also typically high in the “good” kinds of fat. Some nuts can even lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
- The FDA has identified polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats as “good” fats for cholesterol health. The fats in nuts are overwhelmingly of these two types.
Recent Major Health-Related Nut Studies:*
- Physician’s Health Study of 22,000 men, Iowa Women’s Heath Study of 40,000 women, and the Harvard Nurses Health Study of 86,000 women. One conclusion that all of these works shared was that nut consumption lowered the incidence of heart disease.
- A study of 31,000 Seventh Day Adventists conducted by Loma Linda University in California discovered that not only did eating nuts lower the risk of heart disease, but surprisingly, also helped participants to keep their weight down. It is speculated that the “good” fat in nuts helps to satisfy appetites, so that people can manage to trim other possible calories throughout the day.
- Studies at both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that people on a Mediterranean-style diet, one that is moderate in fat intake, were more successful in keeping weight off for longer than their counterparts on a traditional low fat diet. The participants in the Mediterranean group substituted their usual saturated fat foods such as butter, certain dressings and sauces, with mono and polyunsaturated fats such as nut butters, nuts, and healthy oils.
Heart Health, Nuts, & the FDA:
- Multiple large-scale studies in recent years are pointing to the conclusion that nuts are extremely beneficial to good health. The claims for certain nuts range from reducing heart disease risks, facilitating weight loss, to lowering the prevalence of Adult Type 2 diabetes. The FDA has even agreed to let manufacturers put on labels of certain nut products an official FDA statement: “Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of some nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Although labels cannot say that eating nuts prevents heart attacks, the FDA does allow it to be said that eating nuts can be part of a healthy diet that helps prevent heart attacks.
Are Nuts for Everyone?
- By most accounts, nuts are proven to be a healthful addition to most people’s diets for all of the reasons outlined earlier. However, there are some people who should not be eating nuts due to allergies. According to research, nearly 1 percent of Americans, or 3 million people, have tree nut allergies of some kind. Reactions run from mild to life threatening. Many of the allergic have become expert label readers. Some carry epinephrine injectors with them at all times. For others, Medic Alert bracelets are considered mandatory. Additionally, some foods, including almonds, cashews, and peanuts, contain naturally occurring organic acids called oxalates. A small percentage of people with rare health conditions cannot metabolize oxalates well, and are put on oxalate restricted diets. These conditions include absorptive hypercalciuria type II, and several hyperoxaluria conditions. For further details, see research atwww.StrausCom.com/MaraNatha
- Aflatoxins are carcinogens that come from a naturally occurring mold found on foodstuffs. Corn and peanuts can be susceptible, especially if they are processed or stored in a hot and wet environment. Aflatoxins have been extensively studied for more than 40 years, and the FDA permits minute “safe” levels in foods. With such awareness, modern handling, sorting, storage, and climate control techniques, aflatoxins have been strictly controlled.
* For links to research and articles throughout this primer, please visit www.StrausCom.com/MaraNatha