What the research says
Nuts, 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
The Global Burden of Disease study showed that poor diet is responsible for 20% of deaths worldwide. Of the top ten dietary related risk factors, diets ‘low in fruit’, ‘low in nuts and seeds’, and ‘low in vegetables and legumes’ are the only foods that make the list, showing us just how important it is that we consume these whole foods. 2
Further to this, 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%. 3
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). 4
With 1 in 3 deaths due to cardiovascular disease in Australia, over 1.2 million Australians living with diabetes and nearly two thirds of Australians being overweight or obese (AIHW), it is vital that we consume nutrient rich core foods that have scientifically based health benefits – like nuts.
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. All nuts are gluten-free, naturally low in sodium, and contain no added sugars. 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 ofcancer, depression and is associated with supporting brain health, memory, improved mood and better diet quality.
Click here for a free resource on nuts and heart health.
Click here for a free resource on nuts and diabetes.
Click here for a free resource on nuts and weight loss.
The Practical Stuff
Nuts are extremely versatile and there are many delicious and fun ways you can enjoy them. They can be used in cooking, smoothies and as an on-the go snack, either by themselves as a healthy handful or added to your favourite homemade snack recipes. In terms of cost – what is the cost of good health? Nuts can sometimes appear to be more expensive, because we often buy them in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, as a price per kilo. But if you compare the cost of other snacks on a per kilo basis, they are pretty comparable. And remember, nuts also provide a bigger bang for your buck when it comes to nutrition, so it’s also an investment in your health.
How To Enjoy Nuts
So now that you know how important nuts are in your diet, here are some ways you can add more nuts into your day:
- 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.
For more information about nuts and more free nuts resources and recipes, click here.
1. 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.
2. Global Burden of Disease https://www.thelancet.com.gbd
3. AIHW Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Canberra, 2016.
4. Crosland, P., et al., The health burden of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review. Aust NS J Public Health, 2019.
Editor’s Note: This article was written in collaboration with Nuts For Life. For more information on nuts, click here.