Spanish researchers have found that along with a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, that adding nuts to your daily food intake is more effective in cutting heart risks than upping the amoung of olive oil consumed per day. However, adding both these healthy fats to your diet lessened heart problems far more than a typical low-fat diet.
Nuts are commonly known for being high in fat and for this reason are normally taboo in a low-fat diet. However, nuts are high in protein and are a good source of 'healthy fats' while also containing all the vitamins (including antioxidants) and minerals our bodies need. Despite the high fat and calorie content of nuts, people who add a handful of these delicious snacks to their diets apparently don't gain weight.
Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital said of this recent research that, "What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss."
The study which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, discovered that people who improved the most ate three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds per day. While the subjects didn't actually lose weight, a significant percentage of them succeeded in reducing abdominal fat and improved both their cholesterol and blood pressure.
Dr Manson stressed that simply adding nuts to a Western diet — laden with calories and fat — was not the best approach as this could lead to more weight gain and increased heart risks. People wanting to take advantage of this new research should try to replace unhealthy snacks, like packets of chips or fast food, with a handful of nuts instead, Manson suggests.
With around 25-30 per cent of Australians displaying at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome — a combination of health risks, such as high blood pressure and abdominal obesity — finding a way to reduce or reverse this condition would mean huge health improvements for many of us.