A daily handful of nuts reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 30per cent, and it won’t make you fat.
Nutrition expert and director of University of Wollongong’s Smart Foods Centre, Professor Linda Tapsell, said the news about nuts was all good.
Prof Tapsell attended the International Congress of Nutrition in Spain last week and spoke at the ‘‘Nuts in Health and Disease’’ symposium, where five worldwide leading researchers shared the latest findings as part of the conference.
‘‘Drawing on meta-analyses of many studies, my presentation highlighted the impact of nuts on cholesterol levels and the consistent evidence that nut consumption is not associated with being overweight,’’ she said.
Nuts have long been considered an important part of a healthy diet, but their high calorie count meant some questioned whether they might be associated with weight gain.
“There are lots of foods with relatively high calorie levels that are actually good for you,’’ Prof Tapsell said.
‘‘If you watch the amount you eat and the amount of calories in the total diet then that’s not a problem.’’
Most of the research Prof Tapsell looked at involved nuts when eaten within the context of the ‘‘Mediterranean diet’’.
‘‘For people who eat in that way, there appears to be a lower risk of high cholesterol levels, and those kind of diets are associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk,’’ she said.
The studies looked at the consumption of mixed nuts rather than specific types of nuts, although she said that walnuts ‘‘stood out as having a good fatty acid profile’’.
Other findings announced at the symposium included new evidence that a regular intake of pistachios may be associated with the reduction of incidence of type 2 diabetes and that a daily handful of nuts (15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of hazelnuts and 7.5 grams of almonds) reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction, stroke and cardiovascular death) by 28per cent.
Prof Tapsell said there was another very good reason to eat nuts: ‘‘They taste good.’’