Nuts: 5 health benefits of the versatile snack

mixed nuts in wooden bowl, healthy fat and protein food and snack, ketogenic diet food
Eating mixed nuts three times a week could help you live longer. [Photo: Getty]

For those looking after their health, nuts are an almost-perfect food.

They’re packed with nutritional benefits, portable and versatile.

Provided you don’t have an allergy, incorporating a variety of nuts into your diets – from textured walnuts to creamy cashews – is a great way to supplement a healthy diet.

While different varieties of nuts obviously vary in their nutritional values – cashews, for instance, are highest in copper compared to other nuts – many studies have been done on the benefit of mixed nuts in general, as you might pick up in a handy snack pack from Pret.

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To honour National Nut Day – which is in fact a global celebration of all things nuts – we’ve rounded up all the best health benefits offered by this handy, on-the-go food.

Daily nut consumption helps you stay slim

Just half a handful of nuts a day will help you stay a healthy weight, according to science.

Increasing your daily nut intake by just half a serving – 14 grams (g) – a day is linked to less weight gain and a lowered risk of obesity, found a wide-scale study published in the British Medical Journal this year.

Eat nuts to live longer

A 28g serving of nuts, three times a week, could help you live longer, according to a Spanish study. That’s more than feasible for a longer life, right?

People eating more than three servings a week of nuts were found to have a reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 55% and cancer by 40%.

The experts found walnuts to be particularly beneficial, because they have a high content of heart-healthy alpha-linoleic acid – an Omega-3 fatty acid associated with preventing stroke.

High nut consumption improves your brain health

Eating a lot of nuts, over a long time period, could boost your brain health. That’s according to a large-scale study of almost 5,000 Chinese adults: researchers found eating more than 10g of nuts a day – that’s around two teaspoons – was positively linked to better mental function, together with improved thinking, reasoning and memory.

assorted nuts
Eating nuts helps you stay slim. [Getty]

Nuts are good for, well, your nuts

One for the gentlemen: a diet rich in nuts is said to improve sperm count and motility.

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A study published last year in the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology found a link between the inclusion of nuts in a regular diet and the quality of function of human sperm.

The 14-week-long trial followed 119 healthy young men aged 18-35. Half the group were asked to supplement their usual western-style diet with 60g of mixed almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts, while the other half, a control group, ate their usual diet without nuts. The first group reported significantly higher levels of sperm count, vitality, motility and morphology.

So, if you’re looking to fall pregnant with your partner, load up on nuts.

Nuts inhibit the growth of cancer cells

Eating nuts could aid the body’s natural defence mechanism against DNA damage that leads to cancer development, discovered scientists as part of a study conducted by the Department of Nutritional Toxicology at the University of Jena in Germany.

The researcher investigated the effect of five different kinds of nuts: macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios.