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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
April 2012

Eating Nuts May Benefit Health and Nutrition

Eating more nuts may improve health and nutrient intake in both adults and children, a recent study reports.

The authors conducted a nationwide study among 24,385 Americans over the age of two. They divided the population into children between two and 11 years-old, adolescents and teens between 12 and 18 years-old and adults 19 and older. The researchers collected information on subjects' nut consumption, defining out-of-hand nut (OOHN) consumers as people who ate more than a quarter ounce of nuts daily.

The results suggested that OOHN consumers had greater intake of energy, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, copper and magnesium, compared to those who did not eat a high amount of nuts. Additionally, OOHN consumers had a lower intake of carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol, and had better diet quality. These participants were more likely to have a healthy weight, higher concentrations of high density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol and higher blood levels of folate. The scientists estimated that adults who consumed more nuts had a 19 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure and a 21 percent lower risk of having high levels of low density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol.

The researchers concluded that eating a lot of nuts may have significant benefits on the health and nutrient intake of both children and adults in the United States.

There are many different varieties of nuts popularly consumed by Americans, such as walnuts. Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is a large tree known for its high-quality wood and edible nut. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a health claim stating that eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a diet low in fat may reduce the risk of heart disease. Black walnut has been shown to contain chemicals called tannins which may help with irritation and may improve tissue firmness. Traditionally, it has been used to relieve constipation and diarrhea.

Many people also choose almonds as a nutritious snack. The almond is closely related to the peach, apricot and cherry (all classified as drupes). Unlike the others, however, the outer layer of the almond is not edible. The edible portion of the almond is the seed. Sweet almonds are a popular nutritious food. Researchers are especially interested in their level of monounsaturated fats, as these appear to have a beneficial effect on blood lipids. Almond oil is widely used in lotions and cosmetics.

For more information about walnuts, almonds or other nuts, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

References

  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com
  2. O'Neil CE, Keast DR, Nicklas TA, et al. Out-of-hand nut consumption is associated with improved nutrient intake and health risk markers in US children and adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Nutr Res. 2012 Mar;32(3):185-94. View Abstract
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