bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Don’t go too nuts

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I know that I’m frequently extolling the virtues of nuts on here but I’m a bit annoyed by all the news articles I’ve been reading about the benefits of eating nuts lately. Here’s the article that prompted this post: Tree nuts linked to lower body weight, decreased type 2 diabetes risk: study. The article states that daily nut consumption (of more than 1/4 ounce) leads to lower body weight, higher HDL (aka the “good” cholesterol), and lower risk of metabolic syndrome. Important things to note here: the differences between the nut-eaters and the non-nut-eaters were quite small (5% or less for most risk factors). Also, the study was funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (to the news article’s credit it does point this out). It’s always a little questionable when a study shows results which are favourable to the funder. The biggest issue, as I see it, is that this study showed an association between tree nut consumption and the aforementioned health benefits. This means that these benefits may be attributable to some other fundamental difference(s) between the tree nut-eaters and the non-nut-eaters. For example, nuts are fairly expensive, perhaps nut-eaters are healthier because they have a higher socioeconomic status than non-nut-eaters. Nut-eaters may be more health conscious than non-nut-eaters. When you’re looking at an association it’s very difficult to attribute the difference between the two groups to one specific behaviour, such as nut-eating. So, while I would encourage everyone to consume a variety of foods, including nuts, I would also encourage everyone not to overdo it. Nuts are not going to compensate for an overall poor diet. Just adding nuts to a diet that’s high in calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods is not going to protect you from developing heart disease or type two diabetes. It’s also important to note that nuts are high in calories so you can easily have too much of a good thing.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian living in Nova Scotia, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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