Why Health Nuts Eat Nuts

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Filed Under: Cholesterol
Last Reviewed 03/18/2014

Why Health Nuts Eat Nuts

If you still haven't begun to stockpile nuts, let me give you a few more good reasons to do so.

There are still many doctors and dietitians who have their heart patients avoid nuts because of their high fat content. Study after study, however, has shown that adding nuts to one's diet can dramatically lower the levels of harmful cholesterol, while increasing the beneficial form of cholesterol. When certain nuts are added to a healthy diet plan and other cholesterol-lowering foods, they can be just as effective as cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.

When you take into account all the changes in the various forms of cholesterol, the statistics show that a handful of almonds a day can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent. Two handfuls of almonds will reduce your risk by 20 percent. By adding a few other cholesterol-lowering foods such as oats, oat bran, barley, or psyllium to your diet, it would be easy to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 25 percent. This is as good as you can expect to get with the dangerous cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which deplete compounds such as coenzyme Q10 and eventually make the problem worse.

While this particular study focused on almonds, other studies have found that peanuts (really a legume and not a nut), pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts can all help lower cholesterol and other harmful blood fats.

Nuts Do Not Contribute to Weight Gain

There's a growing number of individuals who don't want to take cholesterol-lowering medication, but at the same time have a difficult time sticking to a low-fat diet. Nuts provide an effective alternative.

I can almost hear your mind churning at this point. What about the weight gain from eating all these nuts? Well, you can rest easy. There wasn't one. In fact, in all the studies I've seen involving nut consumption, none have shown that eating nuts leads to weight gain. It appears that your body adapts to eating these energy-rich powerhouses by decreasing the desire and/or appetite for other foods. In all the studies I've talked about, the researchers found there was no increase in body weight. I would suggest, however, that you not consume nuts that have been oiled or fried, or heavily salted or sugared nuts. Fresh, whole nuts should be your first choice, followed by lightly salted or dry roasted nuts.

One other note about almonds. Studies have also found that they can significantly lower triglyceride levels, as well as “bad” cholesterol.

Improve Your Diet Regularly with Nuts

Nuts should be a regular part of your diet. Not only are they rich in unsaturated fatty acids, they are also a good source of the monounsaturated fatty acids, just like olive oil. If you haven't already, you need to give them a try. And don't get caught up in the nonsense that you can't eat nuts because they'll make you put on weight. Unfortunately, that seems to be most people's main reason for not eating nuts. Obviously, chocolate-covered nuts or those cooked in oil or found in candy are a totally different animal.

From now until after the holidays you can take advantage of the bounty and start stockpiling. Each type of nut has a different oil and mineral content, so be sure to eat a variety of nuts. They are readily available in just about every grocery store produce department.

Now It's Your Turn: What's your favorite nut?

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