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Recent studies are calling into question just how bad the saturated fat in red meat and the cholesterol in eggs really are. But it’s not yet clear how much meat and eggs we should really be adding to our diets just yet.
Meanwhile, there’s a protein player most food scientists agree remain a great option: nuts.
No, not salt-and-candy coated bar nuts, but almonds, walnuts and other "nutritional powerhouses," as the New York Times calls them. (Macadamia and cashew nuts are high in saturated fat and are often left off the list of recommended nuts.)
While we’ve long known about the beneficial fats and proteins in many kinds of nuts, a series of new studies –on adults and children – are underlining how good they can be. And how we may have been avoiding them for all the wrong reasons.
In a nutshell (pun intended), the first study found that in a group of 200,000 people, the more nuts a person ate, the lower their death rates from all causes, most notably heart disease and stroke, reports the Times.
New thinking on allergy prevention
And while nut allergies continue to be a vexing problem, especially for parents of young children, there is new evidence that children born to mothers who ate peanuts during pregnancy were less likely to have nut allergies.
A study published last month contradicts the now-common practice of holding off on feeding nuts to infants until they pass the one-year mark. United Kingdom researchers found that infants exposed to peanuts at ages four months and older had a reduced risk of having a peanut allergy at age five.
While nuts can be fatty and caloric, as the Times reports, studies have shown that adults who eat nuts tend to weigh less than people who avoid them – and dieters lose more when they include nuts in their diets.
Why? It could be, researchers think, that the fat and protein helps fill us up so we don’t turn to other high-calorie fare. There’s also a theory that that the calories in whole nuts may not be entirely absorbed during digestion.
(Also: They sure taste better than rice crackers and celery sticks.)
There’s evidence that for people at risk of diabetes, nuts and peanut butter for breakfast can help keep blood sugars steady and reduce appetite, too.
So while the great debate over meat, saturated fats and cholesterol continues, you may want to take a second look at whether nuts work for you.
Read on to learn about the most popular varieties of nuts and how they can help you live longer.