20 Feb It's Time to Go Nuts!

Nuts are full of healthful nutrients that can protect your heart, ward off certain types of cancer and may even slow the aging process.

By Lisa V. Bunce, MS, RDN

The research can’t be ignored… a diet filled with nuts can protect your health, especially as you age.   According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), many seniors are taking that advice to heart; seniors ages 60+ eat more nuts than any other age group.   

Positive Effects

Just a small handful of nuts each day can have a positive effect on your health:

  • Heart Health:  As recent as this month, research shows that following a diet which includes a handful of nuts a day, along with fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and legumes, improved HDL (good cholesterol) function.  In addition, all nuts contain heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers risk of cardiovascular disease  Walnuts to appear to have the best benefit here, since they contain twice as much beneficial antioxidants.
  • Cancer Protection: Any nuts, in any shape or form,(February 2017) reveal that nuts can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, by activating the body’s own defenses.    A 2013 JAMA study found that an ounce of nuts a day in men diagnosed with early-stage prostrate cancer, lowered their risk of developing advanced prostrate cancer.
  • Slowing the Aging Process:  A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging (January 2017) reports that the consumption of nuts and seeds is associated favorably with all-cause mortality.  Participants had more than 1.5 years of reduced cell aging if they consumed 5% of their total calories from nuts and seeds (50 calories out of every 1000 calories consumed).
  • Builds Strong Bones:  An ounce of calcium and magnesium-rich almonds provides 26% of your daily needs  to build strong bones.
  • Helps to meet protein needs:  Protein is important to maintain the integrity of our muscles, our strength and our immune system.  A serving of peanuts can provide you with 7 grams of protein, a 1/10 of your protein needs for the day.

Amounts Suggested

Moderation and serving size is important, since nuts are calorically dense.

A 1 ½ ounce handful of nuts is about 240 calories.

  • Lowest calorie nuts, at 160 calories an ounce, are almonds (23 nuts); cashews (16-18 nuts), pistachios (49 nuts).  These nuts have more protein and less fat
  • Highest calorie nuts, at 200 calories an ounce, are macadamia (10-12 nuts), pecans (18-20 nuts). These have less protein and more fat.

Lisa Bunce is a Registered Dietitian with 20+ year’s experience in the health and wellness field.  She is passionate about helping her clients/patients make positive changes in their lives toward better health.   She resides in Redding with her husband, 2 children and 2 dogs, and enjoys spending time outdoors and cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.