Dr. Day is a cardiologist and Medical Director of Heart Rhythm Services at his practice in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at Stanford University. He is board certified in Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology.
6 Reasons Why You Must Eat Nuts Every Day
Could a handful of nuts every day be the secret to a long and healthy life? In this article, I share 6 reasons why your health depends on a daily serving of nuts based on the most recent research.
Nuts for Me
Growing up, nuts were never part of my daily diet. Like any child, I would have an occasional peanut butter and jam sandwich but that was about it.
Now I realize that peanuts aren’t technically a nut, however, in the study we are going to review, and in just about every other medical study, the peanut is 100% equal to the nut from a nutritional standpoint. Of course, if you buy the typical processed peanut butter from the grocery store then you may undo most of the health benefits from all the added sugar and oil.
It wasn’t until I lost my health in my early 40s that I started eating nuts. Today, I could never imagine a day without nuts. Even when I travel, I always pack some with me.
I especially love my daily serving of almonds and walnuts. I must confess, I still love my peanut butter. The only difference now is that I only eat the natural type without any added sugar or oil. Currently, my favorite is the crunchy natural peanut butter with added flax and chia seeds from Trader Joe’s.
6 Reasons Why You Must Eat Nuts Every Day
If the great taste of nuts isn’t enough to convince you to start a daily nut habit, here are six reasons why you must eat nuts every day based on a study that just came out. In this study, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology pooled the results of 29 other medical studies involving 819,448 people.
Based on reviewing the medical records of nearly one million people, here are the six things you can expect if you eat at least a handful of nuts every day. For peanut lovers, these researchers also came to the same conclusion when they analyzed the health effects of peanuts in these same people.
1. Lowers your risk of heart disease by 29%.
2. Reduces your chances of dying prematurely by 22%.
3. Drops your cancer risk by 15%.
4. Lowers your chances of developing a breathing problem by 52%
5. Reduces your diabetes risk by 39%.
6. Drops your chances of developing an infection by 75%.
If there was a drug that could do all these things, without any side effects, everyone would be on it. Sadly, less than one in four Americans can even get around to eating nuts every other day according to research from the American Heart Association.
Can you believe the results of this study?
Are the results of this study really that reliable? Are the data convincing enough to eat a handful of nuts, every day, for rest of your life?
I realize that changing up your diet, based on the latest research, can sometimes be frustrating. It seems like study results are always flip-flopping.
In this case, the health benefits of nuts are extremely convincing. When 29 studies involving nearly one million people all come to the same conclusion, you can feel pretty confident about the results.
Other Benefits of Nuts
In addition to the six benefits identified in this study, there are many other reasons to eat nuts every day. Below are six of them:
1. Weight Loss
In the 1980s, people trying to lose weight were told to avoid nuts because they were so high in fat and calories. These 1980 recommendations came despite the fact that medical studies have never shown that nuts cause weight gain.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. Indeed, many studies show that nut eaters lose weight.
There are several ways that nuts may help with weight loss. The first is that all of the protein and fiber fills you up, thus you are less likely to eat sugar or processed carbohydrates. Second, the body has a hard time using all of the calories in a nut so you get some “free calories.” Lastly, nuts may increase your metabolism so you burn more calories even at rest.
How well do nuts fare when put to the test in medical studies? A recent study showed that almond eating dieters were able to lose 65% more weight than their non-almond eating dieting counterparts.
2. Lowers Cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol, it is a similar story. Studies consistently show that nuts drop your bad cholesterol (LDL), raise your good cholesterol (HDL), and lower your triglycerides. For anyone with bad cholesterol numbers, nuts are a perfect daily food choice.
3. High in Fiber
Getting enough fiber in your diet has long been recognized as one of the key factors to a long life free of heart disease and cancer. To maximize the fiber in your diet, nuts are an excellent choice. To illustrate this point, just one handful of almonds packs 4 grams of fiber or 14% of the fiber that is recommended each day.
4. High in Antioxidants Including Vitamin E
Antioxidants are molecules that protect your body from breaking down, aging, or “rusting.” In addition to the high antioxidant content of vegetables and fruit, nuts are also high in antioxidants.
5. May be High in Omega 3 Fats
For a long and healthy life, you simply cannot get enough omega 3 fats from natural food sources. Nuts, as well as seeds, are a great way to get the plant-based omega 3 fats. For example, a single serving of walnuts, chia seeds, or flax seeds will give you 100% of the omega 3s you need for the day.
5. High in Magnesium
Magnesium is one of those minerals that seems to help with everything. You name it, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, insomnia, muscle crams, DNA repair, bone formation, anxiety, depression, constipation, etc. All of these conditions may improve with more magnesium in the diet.
The sad thing is that half of all Americans are low in magnesium. This is because most people don’t eat enough foods high in magnesium. To keep your magnesium tanks full, nuts, peanuts, and seeds are all great food choices.
6. Lowers Blood Pressure
In a review of 21 studies involving thousands of patients, researchers writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have clearly shown that nut eaters run lower blood pressures. While the amount of blood pressure reduction from nuts alone isn’t enough to get you off blood pressure medications, at least it gets your blood pressure moving in the right direction. If you are committed to lowering your blood pressure naturally, then eating nuts in combination with 10 other steps I outlined in a recent article will likely get you there.
Is there any downside to nuts?
With all the health benefits of nuts, you may be thinking, “what’s the catch?” Fortunately, unless you have an allergy to nuts, peanuts, or seeds, I really can see no downside to eating them every day.
Some of my patients with diverticular disease of their colon have shared with me that their other physicians have told them to never eat nuts, peanuts, or seeds. This was because doctors used to be concerned that perhaps an undigested piece could get stuck in the colon of someone with diverticulosis.
While that was the prevailing wisdom of the past, modern medical studies show that this way of thinking was just a myth based on no research. If your physician has told you not to eat nuts, peanuts, or seeds because of this reason, please share this study with them to see if their recommendation is still right for you.
Are seeds just as good as nuts?
Nutritionally, seeds perform just as well as nuts. They are also high in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and many other vitamins and minerals.
Personally, I eat seeds every day as well. My favorites are chia, flax, sesame, pumpkin, hemp, and sunflower seeds. I typically eat at least three different types of seeds every day.
This Study’s Wake Up Call
The authors of this study conclude that 4.4 million people die prematurely every year because they don’t eat nuts. Given how cheap and delicious nuts are, there really is no excuse not to eat nuts every day unless you have a food allergy.
Take Home Message
With all the tasty nuts, peanuts, or seeds available, everyone can find something they like to eat every day. As long as you are not covering them with added sugar or oil, it really doesn’t matter how you eat them. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s hard to find something that performs better than nuts, peanuts, or seeds.
Do you eat nuts every day? Please share your thoughts, experiences, and questions below. I’ll do my best to quickly answer any questions that are posted.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.