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In a Nutshell: The Value of Nuts in the Diet

by Elaine Guinan on November 7, 2016

From nut butters to nut milks, there has never been such emphasis on one of nature’s greatest powerhouses. Nuts are one of the healthiest foods you can snack on. Numerous studies have found that eating nuts regularly is associated with reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

The American Institute of Cancer Research notes that there is not enough evidence to show that nuts by themselves lower cancer risk; however emerging studies suggest they may play a role in prevention. One study found that people who ate nuts at least four times a week had lower risk of cancer overall compared to those eating nuts less than once a week. Another which examined nut intake in men found that men who ate nuts five times per week were less likely  develop prostate cancer than those who didn’t. While it can’t be said that nuts alone are responsible for this decreased risk, it is a good idea to include nuts in the diet if possible, due to their impressive nutrient content.

Nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both are healthy fats, known to decrease cholesterol, which lowers risk of heart disease. All nuts are good sources of fiber, protein and micronutrients, however the specific micronutrients varies by type. For example, brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, while almonds are a good source of vitamin E. In order to get maximum nutritional benefit, it is a good idea to eat a wide variety of nuts.

Portion Control

As nuts are high in calories, it is important to be mindful of  eating the correct portion size. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is one ounce. This is roughly 23 almonds, 6 brazil nuts or 14 walnuts.The serving size of nut butters is 2 tablespoons. This can be difficult to monitor, which may lead to unwanted weight gain.

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