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What Do We Know About Nuts?
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education

Peanut butter, roasted nuts, pistachios, chocolate-covered almonds...who doesn't love nuts in one form or another? Nuts are a versatile, convenient, delicious, and easy snack. They're so tasty that we may even feel a tad guilty about eating them. But worry not! Science proves in this new meta-analysis that they are great for our health and deserve a spot in our daily diet.

A meta-analysis is a study that groups together multiple other studies that all have similar topics and focus to see if the various studies had an overall similar outcome. When researchers do this, they try to pick studies that have similar types of people, with a similar health status. In this recent meta-analysis, scientists chose previously-published studies between 1958 and 2013 that looked at the health benefits of eating nuts, and how nuts impact blood-pressure levels.

They gathered past studies that have used different types of nuts such as peanuts, soy nuts, and other tree nuts (including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans) with varied results on the blood pressure of adults. There were a total of 21 studies that met their criteria and qualified to be part of this review.

The result of this review was that nut consumption helped to significantly lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) in participants without Type-II Diabetes. They found that specific nuts were shown to significantly reduce diastolic blood pressure, specifically pistachios and "mixed nuts."

Nuts offer a variety of other health benefits. They are high in healthy fats and help stabilize blood-sugar to prevent diabetes. Walnuts offer omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and fiber. Peanuts offer monounsaturated fat, biotin, vitamin E, and niacin. Cashews offer copper, magnesium, and zinc.

Nuts are high in fat and calories, so you don't want to go too crazy; in moderate portions, they make for a healthy, in-between-meals, easy snack that can help prevent cravings related to low blood sugar. Adding nuts to your diet can contribute to better cardiovascular health and weight management, plus they taste delicious!

Am J Clin Nutr May 2015 vol. 101 no. 5 966-982

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