Go Nuts

SHUNNED for being packed with fat and calories, nuts are back on healthy menus across the world. With nutritionists celebrating the health benefits of mono and poly-unsaturated fats found in most nuts, people are now being told to eat nuts not just to lose weight, but also to keep it off.

Research over the last 15 years strongly suggests that everyone’s diet should include nuts, even though 30 gm (roughly 1/4 cup) of unroasted nuts provides 157 to 204 calories and 13 to 22 gm of fat. Adding two almonds servings (50 gm) a day to your diet has no effect on body weight, reported the British Journal of Nutrition. Along with the heart-protecting benefits of almonds, walnuts and peanuts, pistachios are now being studied for their health benefits on the Indian population.

This week, a team of senior doctors in Delhi announced the start of a six-month study on the health benefits of pistachio on Indians. Pistachio has proven heart-protective benefits on people across the world, with studies in the US showing it is a healthy snacking option despite high calories because of its high fibre and good fat content.

Like other nuts, pistachio brings with it the benefit of its high good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein or HDL) and low bad cholesterol (LDL) content, which makes it a healthy replacement for artery-clogging snacks such as pakoras and narnkeens.

A team of doctors led by heart surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan, cardiologist, Dr Ravi Kas1iwal and diabetes expert Dr Anoop Misra will study a small group of people divided into two groups – one will include pistachio in their regular diet, while the other group will stick to their regular diet.

“These people have some or the other risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. Apart from glucose control, we’ll be tracking cholesterol leyels, C-reactive and lowering oxidative stress,” says Dr Misra, director and head, department of diabetes and metabolism, Fortis Group ofHospitals. It’s not just the heart protective benefits of pistachio that will be studied, but also its impact on weight loss and glucose control in people at the risk of diabetes.

A Harvard study had found that people lost more weight on a moderate-fat nut diet than on a low-fat diet. “Nuts help people stick to diets better than fat-free foods because they are high in fibre, which provides a feeling of satiety and discourages snacking,” says Dr Misra.

The mono-unsaturated fat in nuts, like the fat in olive oil, helps lower bad cholesterol without affecting the levels of heart-protecting good cholesterol. It also reduces C-reactive protein levels that are linked with inflammation and increased risk of heart disease,” says Dr Kasliwal, senior cardiologist at Apollo Hospitals. The more nuts you eat – up to half a cup a day – the greater is the drop in the bad cholesterol level. So, go nuts as soon as you can

NUTRITIONAL PUNCH:- Health benefits of a fistful of nuts a High levels of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats a No cholesterol n Minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, copper, selenium and potassium a Phytochemicals, such as plant-estrogens (isoflavones) and phenolic compounds, ellagic acid and flavonoids a Vitamins E, BS, niacin and folic acid a Plant protein, which makes them a good alternative to meat; nuts are also high in the amino acid arginine a High dietary fibre