All About Nuts: The Old and the New Science
Are nuts healthy? What’s so good about them? Will they make you fat or help to lose weight? Do you need to soak nuts?
There is lots of misleading information on the Internet about pretty much everything these days, including nutrition. After stumbling across some unfounded claims about nuts that sounded too good to be true, we’ve searched for legit studies and literature reviews on the topic and summarised the old and the new findings here.
The Well Established Facts
Over the past few decades, several studies identified that frequent nut consumption in small amounts is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. There’s also scientific evidence suggesting that nut consumption may reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, insulin resistance and oxidative stress. This is because all nuts are packed with essential nutrients such as:
- Unsaturated fats
- Essential vitamins and minerals (i.e., vitamin E, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium, and manganese)
- Various phytochemicals with potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties such as polyphenols
- Plant proteins (nuts are a good source of arginine, lysine, and tryptophan)
Do you have to ‘activate’ nuts to get the most benefit?
No. While soaking legumes and grains reduces phytate levels, there is no evidence supporting or refuting these claims for nuts. According to research studies we found, soaking nuts doesn’t increase nutrient bioavailability or lower phytic acid levels; it reduces mineral concentrations, especially when the nuts have been chopped.
The general recommendation is to eat nuts raw and with their skins, whenever possible, because of the skin’s high phytochemical content as well as antioxidant activity. The nut butter in our collagen bars is made from raw nuts with their skins.
Will nuts make you fat or help you lose weight?
Don’t worry about nuts making you fat. If you stick to a handful per day (there's around a handful in each of our collagen bars), they can help you lose weight as they seem to regulate appetite and discourage less healthful choices. Simply put, you will feel fuller for longer and won’t crave other salty snacks that are unhealthy such as chips and pretzels. On the other hand, if you eat a kilo of nuts at your office desk, you will gain weight, as you won’t be able to burn all the calories. Overeating on any food, no matter how healthy, combined with lack of physical activity, will make you gain weight.
New Research on Nuts
There’s new research suggesting that you can bio-hack your health, memory, and anti-aging simply by consuming nuts.
Nuts and Cognitive function
Nut consumption appears to be associated with better cognition and memory. This hypothesis is based on finding that including nuts as a regular part of your diet improves the brain’s endothelial function (the blood-brain barrier restricting the free passage of nutrients, hormones, drugs, toxins and cellular elements to the brain), which leads to improved cerebral blood flow and the delivery of nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties to the brain.
Nuts and Anti-aging
Some scientists hypothesised that nuts could prevent premature ageing and increase lifespan by affecting the length of our telomeres.
Telomeres are caps, which protect the ends of chromosomes (DNA molecules), and their length is an indicator of biological age and oxidative stress. Telomeres protect DNA from oxidative damage, allowing the cell to divide normally. The shortening of telomeres is negatively correlated with cell longevity and has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Several modifiable lifestyle factors (including diet) are associated with the rate of telomere shortening.
Nutrients in nuts such as isoflavonoids, folate, vitamin E, and polyunsaturated fatty acids have an essential role in DNA methylation (regulating the gene expression) and integrity due to their antioxidant properties. This is why nuts may have a positive effect on telomere length. Although the evidence on this topic is limited, including nuts in your diet, just in case, can’t harm.
Nuts In Our Collagen Bars
Besides having a great consistency and taste, cashew nuts are the highest in magnesium of all nuts and the lowest in calories, making them the perfect snack. Furthermore, cashews have higher zinc, selenium and iron content comparing to other nuts. Combined with good quality collagen, they're a nutrition powerhouse.
Co-founder, Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist
Alasalvar, C., & Bolling, B. (2015). Review of nut phytochemicals, fat-soluble bioactives, antioxidant components and health effects. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(S2), S68-S78. doi:10.1017/S0007114514003729
Arslan, J., Gilani, A. U., Jamshed, H., Khan, S. F., & Kamal, M. A. (2020). Edible Nuts for Memory. Current pharmaceutical design, 26(37), 4712–4720. https://doi.org/10.2174/1381612826666200806095649
Kumari, S., Gray, A. R., Webster, K., Bailey, K., Reid, M., Kelvin, K., Tey, S. L., Chisholm, A., & Brown, R. C. (2020). Does 'activating' nuts affect nutrient bioavailability?. Food chemistry, 319, 126529. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.126529
Ros E. (2010). Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2(7), 652–682. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2070652
Tan, S. Y., Tey, S. L., & Brown, R. (2021). Nuts and Older Adults' Health: A Narrative Review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(4), 1848. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041848
Yu, Z., Malik, V. S., Keum, N., Hu, F. B., Giovannucci, E. L., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., Fuchs, C. S., & Bao, Y. (2016). Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 104(3), 722–728. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.134205