Eat More Nuts?
Updated: Feb 22
[Below is an excerpt is from Dr. Michael Greger's book titled How Not to Diet on pages 196-7. The video above is me reading the excerpt aloud.]
Eating a handful of nuts in the first half of the day is conducive to losing weight because although nuts are somewhat high in calorie density, they are also satiating and prevent people from eating more calories later in the day.
Eating nuts is correlated with reducing the chances of dying prematurely over the next ten years from 2% to 1% (50% reduction).
"Nuts have a high calorie density. At the same time, nuts are one of the few foods that on their own may literally add years to your life. Not only may they slow the aging process itself, but an ounce a day, which is just about a handful or a quarter cup may also reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections more than half of our top 10 killers. So it comes as no surprise that nut consumption is associated with lower risk of dying prematurely across the board, as the title of a recent editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology put it: "Eat Nuts, Live Longer."
On a global scale, inadequate nut consumption (under twenty grams a day) may be responsible for millions of deaths, but what does that mean on a personal level? Studies have found for example, that those eating nuts just twice a week or more appear to cut their mortality risk in half compared to those who almost never eat nuts. You could flip that around and suggest that not eating nuts doubles your chances of dying prematurely. Is that really true, though? Yes and no.
There are many potentially confounding factors, such as those who consume nuts tend to smoke less, exercise more, eat less meat, and more fruits and vegetables. But the mortality benefits appear to persist even after controlling for these factors. Even if we knew for certain it was cause and effect, it's important to understand what having a mortality risk really means.
As a healthy middle aged person, our risk of dying over the next 10 years may only be about 2%, a one-in-fifty chance of dying over the next decade, but that's if we don't eat nuts. If we do eat them, our risk of dying may drop to 1%. So yes, technically, we just cut our risk in half by going from 2% to 1%. But at the same time, we really only cut our absolute risk of dying by single percentage point. That may not sound impressive, but to me dying at such a relatively young age seems such a tragedy that it would be worth making lifestyle changes to drive down that risk as low as possible, especially when one such strategy is a simple, delicious dietary tweak.
Given the purported mortality benefits of eating nuts and despite their high calorie density, it would seem worthwhile to include them in our regular diets by consciously substituting them in place of the same number of calories from other foods. Thankfully, our bodies appear to do it for us automatically. Nuts appear to be so satiating, that if you give people a midmorning snack of almonds, not only do they subsequently eat less at lunch, they eat less at dinner, too, spontaneously accounting for the extra almond calories.
End of Excerpt
(I have to put a picture here otherwise a thumbnail image won't appear - it's weird.)