Go Nuts

nuts and seeds

Nuts may just help you stay lean and vitalized this holiday.

You might assume eating nuts leads to weight gain. They are, after all, high in fat and calories. Just the opposite is true however. Studies show eating nuts regularly actually promotes weight loss.  (1, 2, 3, 4).

In fact, the more nuts you eat, the leaner you are likely to be. Research shows nut intake to be inversely correlated with BMI (a measure of body fat based on weight and height).

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health looked at 120,000 people over a 30-year period. Those who ate nuts daily not only wound up thinner, but with lower LDL cholesterol (the risky kind), higher HDL cholesterol (the helpful kind) and better blood pressure control. They also lived longer.

Nuts and seeds help with weight loss in several ways. Because they are rich in antioxidants they are anti-inflammatory, and thus fight belly fat as they protect us against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, or metabolic syndrome.

People who eat nuts regularly have reduced insulin resistance and smaller waist sizes than their non-nut-eating counterparts. Lower insulin resistance means less potential for fat storage as well as protection against type 2 diabetes.

Nuts and seeds are also satisfying and reduce an appetite for more fattening foods, like chips and fries.

And finally, nuts boost metabolism.  A handful of nuts provides as much as a 15% boost in calories burned. Not so with pretzels or Sea Salt Kettle Chips.

Nuts and seeds are rich in protein and good fats, but also magnesium. Magnesium is a key mineral for weight loss and blood sugar control. Keeping blood sugar levels balanced reduces fat storage from excess insulin. Magnesium promotes calm and balanced moods, thus reducing stress eating.  This mineral also helps with sleep, another key to keeping appetite in check.

Nuts also appear to promote fat-burning bacteria such as Bifidobacterium. One study found ground almonds performed better than prebiotics (such as FOS) in feeding beneficial gut bacteria. These microbes are your allies in burning fat.

Which nuts? Almonds are rated the top weight loss nut, most likely due to their powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. A study published in 2015 in the Journal of the American Heart Association found eating jut 1.5 ounces of almonds per day, compared to eating a carb-rich snack like a muffin, reduced leg and belly fat. Caution: new laws require high heat or chemical processing of “raw” almonds, which can render them toxic. Read more here.

If your challenge is a sluggish thyroid, Brazil nuts should be on the menu. Brazil nuts are one of the richest known sources of the selenium, a key nutrient for thyroid function, and thus metabolism. Furthermore selenium is a potent antioxidant, one more way to keep inflammation (and belly fat) at bay.

Be careful however; Brazil nuts are so rich in selenium you can overdo if you eat more than 5 nuts a day.

Fat, the very reason people often avoid nuts, turns out to the one of the reasons they aid weight loss. Good fats, in particular omega 3 fats, are associated with a faster metabolism. They promote satiety and better blood sugar control. The most omega 3’s come from  flax and chia seeds followed by walnuts.

The trick is to replace chips, bagels, cookies, and similar snacks with fresh nuts, and not too many. How to do that?

This holiday, replace sugary sweets with mixed nuts and bits of dark chocolate. Serve nuts on the appetizer table.

Begin your day with a nutty cereal blend, like Paleonola, a crunchy mix of fat-burning nuts and seeds with a hint of sweetness.  (While you’re there, check out Simple Mills Artisan Bread mix. It’s astonishingly close to the real thing with no grains! Have it topped with almond butter.)

Top your mix of crushed nuts and seeds or Paleonola with kefir for the ideal fat-burning breakfast cereal-replacement.

Love oatmeal? Try substituting chia seeds for some of the oats.  Alternatively, top your smaller bowl of oatmeal with ground flax seeds and walnuts or the Paleonola.

Add hazelnuts or pecans to your holiday salad.

Be sure your nuts are fresh. Old or rancid nuts mean toxic oils, which speed aging and disease. Store them in your freezer and use them up quick. In the case of “raw” almonds, find out how raw they really are. Some are actually treated with damaging high heat and others with a known cancer-causing chemical.

If you have digestive trouble of any kind, especially with nuts, consider soaking your nuts first. Learn why and how to do that here.

By working in more nuts over the holiday, you may end up thinner this January!

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