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Nuts and nut butters represent a healthy food choice; they are not only delicious but may offer a range of health benefits.

Specific nuts appear to protect against DNA damage, suppress cancer growth and inflammation, reduce cholesterol, improve arterial function and reduce the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysms and heart disease. Just a few servings a week may even extend our lifespan.

Studies have shown nuts don’t contribute to weight gain and may actually facilitate weight loss. A variety of studies adding nuts to people’s diets led to no weight gain at all.

Benefits of Nuts

Nuts are a preferred source of protein in a plant-based diet. Nuts and seeds offer a healthy source of fat, which can boost the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients. Nuts are also an excellent source of minerals (especially dry roasted) and Vitamin E.

Their antioxidant content puts nuts as a group near the top of the list of healthy foods. Keep in mind the nut group does not include 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 butter.

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.

 

Image Credit: Creatas Images / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.

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