Improve Nutrient Intake with Nuts - The New Indian Express

Improve Nutrient Intake with Nuts

Published: 21st January 2014 10:21 AM

Last Updated: 21st January 2014 10:24 AM

According to new studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate nuts such as almonds everyday per week experienced reduced hunger, improved dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated (‘good’) fat intake without increasing body weight. The consumption of the almonds also lowered their chances of mortality rate. The studies also established a significant association between the consumption of nuts such as almonds and a lower incidence of death due to heart diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases.

According to Dr Karen Lapsley, chief scientific officer for the Almond Board of California, the study adds to the current body of evidence which demonstrates that eating nuts daily, including almonds, confers health benefits and supports long-term health.

Cardiovascular diseases are estimated to cause nearly three million deaths per annum in India, accounting for 25 per cent of all mortality. And with increasing obesity rates, it becomes even more important to identify foods that pose little risks while providing benefits.

These research studies suggest that incorporating nuts on a daily basis is a simple lifestyle change that could hold significant benefits.

Additionally, the study reveals that those consuming nuts such as almonds more frequently were found to be leaner, tending to exhibit more indicators of a healthy lifestyle than those who reported eating nuts less frequently. For example, they were less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.  Control of cholesterol is a vital factor in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Research has found that consuming almonds on a regular basis can lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while preserving HDL (good) cholesterol. Almonds are also a very good option for those with type-2 diabetes. It has been found that including almonds in a healthy diet has beneficial effects on body weight, blood sugar, cholesterol levels and markers of inflammation, which may lower risk for heart disease in adults with type-2 diabetes.

“Nuts, such as almonds, provide a powerful nutrient package including plant protein, hunger-fighting fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, and important vitamins and minerals. All of these may present cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In fact, ounce for ounce, almonds are higher in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin than any other tree nut,” says Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist and director, Centre for Dietary Counselling.

Previously, almonds have also been shown to increase satiety in both normal weight and overweight subjects. This may be attributed to almonds’ monounsaturated fat (13 grams), protein (six grams) and fiber (four grams) content per single serving of almonds (30 grams).

Another study supporting almonds for a healthy weight was published last year. Measuring digestibility, researchers found that we actually absorb about 20 per cent fewer calories from whole almonds than stated on the nutrition facts panel, suggesting that because of their rigid cell structure, not all calories are available for absorption.

In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the following qualified health claim on the heart healthy impact of nuts scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Further research is needed to  understand how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods. But it is encouraging news for dieters who want a nutrient-dense snack in fewer calories.

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