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Make your diet quality better by consuming almonds, cashews

Eating a handful of nuts as an afternoon snack can go a long way in adding a boost of protein to your diet.

Written by Agencies |Published : January 20, 2015 4:00 PM IST

Washington, Jan 20: Including tree nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts, in the diet can improve the nutrient adequacy for most nutrients, and with better diet quality. A new study compares the nutrient adequacy and diet quality of those who consume tree nuts and non-tree nut consumers in a nationally representative population.

Researchers looked at 14,386 adults, 19+ years of age, participating in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Usual intake was derived from two separate 24-hour recalls. The difference between this study and previous research is that this one uses usual intake and compares nutrient adequacy versus nutrient intake. The latter simply looks at the amount of a particular nutrient an individual consumes. Nutrient adequacy, on the other hand, measures how much of a particular nutrient is consumed in relation to the recommend amount for that nutrient. (Read: Can pistachios protect your heart during stressful situations?)

Tree nut consumers accounted for approximately 6 percent of the population and their mean usual intake was 44 grams (or approximately 1.5 ounces) per day. Compare this to the per capita intake of just 3.3 grams of tree nuts per day. When it comes to nutrient adequacy for most nutrients, tree nut consumers fared better than non-consumers. (Read: Dry fruits & their health benefits)

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According to Carol O'Neil, professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and lead author on the paper, consumption of tree nuts should be encouraged, as part of a healthy diet, by health professionals to improve diet quality and nutrient adequacy. The authors also stressed the need for nutrition education programs that increase awareness and consumption of tree nuts. (Read: Can people with hypertension eat nuts?)

The study is published in the open access journal Nutrients.

Here are some health benefits of tree nuts

Almonds

Helps in the proper growth of an unborn child s body

Soaked almonds are a great source of folic acid an essential vitamin for the proper development of the fetus s brain and neurological system. Moreover, when the almonds are soaked they become much easier to digest, helping a pregnant woman s already sluggish digestive system absorb all its essential nutrients.

Keeps your heart healthy

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition(4), almonds are very potent antioxidant agents that prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This property of the nut helps protect the heart and entire cardiovascular system from damage and the ill-effects of oxidative stress. If you suffer from any form of heart disease, try including almonds in your diet to stay healthy. Read more about 6 reasons eating soaked almonds are great for your health

Cashew

Lowers bad cholesterol: The fact that cashew is rich in fats may be the reason why people avoid eating too much of it, thinking it is bad for health. But nutritionist Neha Chandna emphasizes that cashews have good fats like omega fatty acids and other unsaturated fats like oleic acid which are good for health. They lower bad cholesterol (LDL) level.

Reduced risk of cancer: Along with anacardic acids, cashews also offer antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E which prevent free radical oxidation that can cause cancer.

May prevent tooth decay:Cashews contain anacardic acids that are found to effectively kill organisms that cause tooth decay and abscesses. Read more about 9 amazing health benefits of cashew nuts

Walnut

Induces sleep: Walnuts contain a compound called melatonin, responsible for conveying messages regarding the cycle of light and dark to the body. Since melatonin is already synthesised by the body, consumption of walnuts increases the blood levels of melatonin, thereby inducing sleep. That s why eating walnuts can be a great way to improve sleep.

Prevents diabetes: All types of nuts are associated with a lowered risk of diabetes and walnuts are no exception. According to a study, women who consumed 28 grams of walnuts twice a week were 24% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition, and even though it was conducted on women, experts believe that the benefits would be similar for men too. Read more about 13 reasons to eat walnuts every day!

With inputs from ANI

Photo source: ANI


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