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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Aaron

Nuts and nut butters may help protect against DNA damage, suppress cancer cell growth in vitro, decrease inflammation, reduce cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms and heart disease. Just a few servings a week is associated with living a longer life. Interventional studies in which people are randomized to increased nut consumption have shown benefits in the short term (such as improving arterial function) and the long term (such as lowering stroke risk).

The benefits of nuts do not extend to betel nuts (which have been shown to be carcinogenic and damaging to liver and kidneys), nor necessarily chestnuts or coconuts. Coconut oil and coconut milk appear to raise one’s LDL (bad cholesterol) as much as certain animal fats.

The dietary guidelines of countries such as Greece recommend nuts as snacks. The 2010 USDA Guidelines and MyPlate recommendations similarly emphasize a shift toward a more plant-based diet that includes nuts.

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