Eat These Nuts, Not Those

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

July 22, 2015

  • Don’t let weight gain fears stop you from eating these
  • The problem with peanuts
  • Cracking the nut myth

Are you one of those people who avoid eating nuts because you think their high calorie content will expand your waistline? A lot of people have this fear. But unless you’re gorging on nuts, it’s entirely unfounded.

Nuts can actually help you maintain a healthy weight, and even encourage weight loss if you need to drop some pounds.

In fact, their healthy protein, fat and fiber content can make you feel more satiated after eating them, and keep you feeling fuller longer than many other foods.

The reason I bring this up is because nuts have all sorts of health benefits you’re missing out on if you avoid them.

Just a handful of nuts each day can cut your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and certain types of cancer. They can even reduce your chances of obesity.

And over the past several years, there have been numerous reports that nuts can help you live longer.

To get all of these benefits, as little as a half handful (.5 oz) of nuts daily can do the trick. However, most of the studies on these benefits go for a full ounce, which is about one handful or ¼ cup. This is the amount I suggest.

When nuts are eaten between these two ranges, the calorie content will range between about 100 and 200 calories, depending on the type of nut. And if you want to put that into perspective consider this: Just 15 Lay’s potato chips contain 160 calories. (And who feels satisfied after eating just 15 of them?!)

Nuts are clearly a much healthier choice – along with being a great deal more filling.

Now, when I talk about nuts I’m talking about tree nuts, not peanuts.

In fact you might be surprised to learn that, despite their name, peanuts aren’t even nuts. They’re legumes. That’s the same family that peas, beans and lentils fall into. And peanuts come with a few problems that make me wary.

Peanuts are one of the biggest allergens you’ll find. They’re also high in lectins. These are specialized proteins also found in grains, dairy and plants in the nightshade family. Lectins are resistant to digestion and considered potentially toxic.

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And there’s one more thing, too. Peanuts contain aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain strains of mold. Aflatoxin is a carcinogen that’s been shown to cause cancer in rats.

Peanut butter isn’t a good choice, either.

Not only is it made from peanuts, but it can also contain a lot of added ingredients that are bad for you – like salt, processed oils and trans fats.

Your best bet?

Try unsalted pistachios, walnuts and cashews. Almonds, pecans, macadamia and Brazil nuts are all great choices, too. Eat up to one handful (an ounce) each day. Just pop them in your mouth like you would an M&M, or use them to top salads, plain organic Greek yogurt or your favorite fruits.

Sources:

Jackson CL, et al. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:408S-11S

Afshin A, et al. Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.

Yang M, et al. Nut consumption and risk of colorectal cancer in women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 May 6.

Bao Y, et al. Nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in women. Br J Cancer. 2013 Nov 26;109(11):2911-6.

Luo C, et al. Nut consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):256-69.

van den Brandt PA, et al. butter intake with total and cause-specific mortality: a cohort study and meta-analysis. International Journal of Epidemiology, June 2015. [Epub ahead of print.]

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