I ADORE nuts!
I could happily eat nuts ALL day long!
Just writing about them is really making me want to go out and buy bags and bags of them!
The health benefits of nuts have long been known – they’re a fabulous source of good fats, oils and antioxidants – but, luckily for us, scientists don’t seem to get tired of researching them.
The latest published nut research [Journal of Proteome Research] comes from a group of Spanish scientists who’ve discovered that nut consumption can increase levels of serotonin. Also known as the ‘happy hormone’, serotonin is responsible for lifting your mood – tons of it is released when you laugh – along with suppressing appetite and improves heart health.
The boffins in white lab’ coats, resident at the University of Barcelona, say that just 30 grams of raw (and plain, sorry, the honey roasted varieties don’t count!) unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts was enough to have a positive impact on the body.
The team of scientists, headed up by Cristina Andris-Lacueva, carried out a 12-week study involving people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (MetS). MetS sufferers often have excess belly fat, high blood pressure as well as high blood sugar levels, leaving them prone to type II diabetes and heart problems.
Twenty two MetS patients consumed 30 grams of nuts a day during the course of the study, whilst another 20 adhered to a nut-free diet; after 12 weeks it was discovered that the nut group had higher levels of serotonin than the nut-free control group.
This is excellent news and another tick in the ‘good to eat’ box for nuts. But it gets better, especially if you’re a pistachio fan!
Earlier this year the British Journal of Nutrition published the findings of a study carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They discovered that those little green nuts can also help you to lose weight and keep your heart healthy.
David Baer, the lead white lab’ coat boffin, says,
Well that’s excellent news for nut-lovers around the world; there is, however, just one tiny ‘problem’ – for me, at least…thirty grams of nuts just is never enough and it takes iron will-power not to eat far too many of them!
I’m a numbers girl – they help me stay on track and avoid getting carried away – so here are some nutty facts and figures that should stop you from leaping into your car and driving to the nearest nut shop.
One walnut weighs approximately four grams and contains 26 calories – so for your 30 grams you can have 7.5 walnuts and will need to knock 196 calories off your daily caloric intake.
Hazelnuts fair a little better when it comes to the number of nuts for your 30 grams. Ten hazelnuts weigh around 14 grams and are worth 88 calories, so you can have 21.4 of the little guys to make up your 30 serotonin-boosting grams and will have boosted your calorie intake by 188.
(Have I put you off yet? Just wait until I tell you about peanut butter!)
So on to almonds – these have to be one of my favourite nuts, ever (and have the hardest shells I’m sure!) – one little almond weighs about one gram and is worth six calories. So 30(ish) lovely almonds will give you 30 grams (it’s nice when maths is simple hey) and also the lowest calorie total, coming in at just 173; hurrah!
Do you want to know about pistachios too? Okay, one pistachio weighs approximately half a gram and is worth three calories (oh, this just gets better and better!), so 30 grams of them equates to 60, or so, nuts and 171 calories.
Now that sounds like a lot to me – all the nut numbers come from an app’ I use on my phone (Tap&Track) to keep tabs calories/protein/carbs/fat etc and I’ve always found it to be pretty accurate – I think I might just have to invest in a bag, or two, of pistachios tomorrow and conduct some research of my own
The bottom line? The same principle as always – in moderation, and with an eye on the numbers, nuts are GREAT; eat too many of them and your waistline will soon let you know about it!