like fruit and vegetables, are a vital part of a healthy diet and should be enjoyed every day. But research has found that Aussies don’t eat enough nuts to reap the health benefits. On average, we only eat about 5g of nuts per day compared to the recommended 30g.
A study published in 2018 investigating food groups and risk of chronic disease, showed that an increased intake of nuts, legumes and wholegrains is more effective at primary prevention of disease than other food groups. (1)
In fact, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that a ‘diet low in nuts and seeds’ has the same economic health cost as a ‘diet low in vegetables’! When it comes to heart disease, a ‘diet low in nuts and seeds’ costs 16% whereas a ‘diet low in vegetables’ costs 10%. (2)
Finally, a recently published Australian study found, that of the five lifestyle‐related risk factors, an unhealthy diet accounted for the greatest number of preventable deaths in Australia, with diets ‘low in nuts and seeds’ contributing to 4,900 preventable deaths (diets low in fruit accounted for 5,500 deaths, low in vegetables (4,400) and low in wholegrains (7,400). (3)
Why are nuts so good for us?
Nuts are a nutrient dense food, rich in essential vitamins, minerals, mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, fibre and phytochemicals like flavonoids and resveratrol.
Their unique combination of nutrients is one possible reason why they have been linked to a whole host of health benefits, enhancing life and reducing chronic disease risk.
A large body of evidence shows that regularly eating nuts reduces the risk of:
- heart disease
• type 2 diabetes
• overweight and obesity
Research also shows that regularly eating nuts reduces the risk of cancer, depression and is associated with supporting brain health, memory, improved mood and better diet quality.
How to Enjoy Nuts (4)
- Add a handful of nuts to your morning cereal, breakfast smoothie, yoghurt, porridge or pancakes.
- Keep a small container of nuts in your bag so you can snack on them when you’re out shopping, driving to work, on the train, after a workout, in a meeting or picking up the kids from school.
- Toss a handful of nuts through your salad for a delicious, healthy crunch.
- Mix nuts into your home-made muffins, cakes, slices, muesli bars or any homemade snacks.
- Add some nuts to the pan when cooking stir-fries for a delicious, toasted crunch.
- Use pure nut butters as a spread for kids’ sandwiches.
- Add crushed nuts on top of your ice-cream, crumbles or yoghurt at dessert.
- Serve nuts when entertaining as an appetiser.
- Dip sliced banana, apples, dates, celery or carrot into pure nut butter for healthy, tasty snack.
- Make your own nut mix and keep it in the car or at work for a backup snack.
- Schwingshackl l. et al. Food groups and intermediate disease markers: a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized trials. AJCN 2018. 108: p 576-586.