Nuts are rich in nutrients including unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other healthy plant compounds. They can be enjoyed whole, as nut butters, or chopped up and sprinkled on food. When it comes to nuts, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy them, be it salted, unsalted, seasoned, plain, raw, or roasted.
But perhaps the best part? They’re good for you — and in a multitude of ways.
Eating nuts regularly have been linked to lots of big health benefits. We’ve published many pieces of research over the years demonstrating the ways that the tasty snack is good for you. Yes they’re delicious, but here are five healthy reasons they should be added to your meals each day.
Increased odds of beating breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, with doctors diagnosing one in eight American women with the disease at some point in their lifetime. Previous studies have linked diet to disease risk and survival for years. Nuts also have a long connection to reducing the risk of life-threatening illnesses.
Eating plenty of nuts can cut the risk of dying from breast cancer in half, a new study of about 3,500 patients finds. Researchers say that consuming nuts reduces the recurrence of the disease by up to 52 percent. Overall, mortality rates fell by nearly a third among regular consumers of the snack.
In the study, participants completed a food survey five years after their breast cancer diagnosis. Nut intake was relatively low at just over half an ounce a week on average. That equals about 20 peanuts, 14 almonds, or 16 walnut halves. Those who ate more than this amount were much less likely to have a reoccurrence of cancer or die. Doctors recommend people consume about two ounces per week as part of a balanced diet.
Adding nuts to your diet can lower obesity risk
The high measurement of fat shown in a serving of nuts doesn’t mean you’ll pack on the pounds by eating them. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the high levels of heart-healthy unsaturated fat that do the trick. Research finds that people who regularly eat nuts have a greater chance of keeping off extra weight than people who don’t — and they’re less likely to become overweight in the long run, too.
The study examined the diets and weight of 373,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 70. Participants were recruited from 10 European countries and monitored for five years. Scientists found that participants gained an average of about 4.6 pounds during the five years. Those who reported eating nuts routinely, however, gained less weight than the participants who didn’t make them part of their diets.
‘Natural health capsules’ that can stave off heart disease
Researchers at the American College of Cardiology liken nuts to “natural health capsules,” full of nutrients that may decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular or coronary heart disease. That’s their conclusion, at least after studying data from 210,000 healthcare professionals over a period of 32 years.
Overall, people who ate five or more servings of any type of tree nuts or peanuts per week showed a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who never consumed nuts. The study also shows an inverse association between consumption of peanuts and walnuts, and stroke risk.
For specific nuts, walnuts are an excellent choice. Participants who ate walnuts just one or more times per week had a 19% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 21% reduction in coronary heart disease. Those who ate other tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never ate them. Participants who consumed peanuts at least twice a week saw a 13% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 15% reduction in coronary heart disease.
Staying sharp in old age
Nuts have always been viewed as a healthy snack and great source of protein, but research suggests that a steady, hardy diet of nuts can also sustain mental sharpness and cognition as we age. The study of 4,822 Chinese adults over 55 finds that consuming more than 10 grams of nuts per day led to improved mental functioning and thinking, and better memory and reasoning.
The study aims establish a significant link between a heavy nut diet and improved mental functioning in older adults. Researchers say their findings could be especially helpful in fighting dementia, a common problem many people face as they enter old age.
Peanuts specifically were singled out by the research team as especially helpful in warding off cognitive decline due to their ant-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects.
Nuts may help you live longer
Fatty acids coming from walnuts and certain seeds could help ensure longer and healthier life, research reveals. A study shows that higher intake of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) lowers the risk of death from all causes. ALA is a type of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid in certain nuts, flaxseed, soybean, canola oils, and flaxseed.
Forty-one studies published between 1991 and 2021 which examined the health benefits of ALA. These reports analyzed ALA levels in the patients’ blood and examined their risk of death from nature causes, heart disease, and cancer.
Overall, the more of this fatty acid you consume, the better it appears to be for your health. Study authors find that a one-gram increase of ALA each day has a link to a five-percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. That amounts to an extra tablespoon of canola oil or half an ounce of walnut oil each day. Other nuts that provide omega-3 fatty acids include peanuts and hazelnuts.
Well, guess there’s only one thing left to say: Go nuts for nuts! And, as always, talk to your doctor or nutritionist first before making any changes to your diet.