Scientific research has uncovered a whole host of health benefits of eating nuts, including heart and brain health, weight management (yes, it’s true!), and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.  

Nuts contain a unique combination of nutrients, including fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids and phytochemicals – all of which play a role in reducing the risk of disease.

Aim for a healthy handful (30g) every day to reap the many health benefits of nuts!

Heart health

Nuts are packed with the heart-healthy unsaturated fats, are rich in phytosterols (which can help to reduce cholesterol), and contain amino acids and antioxidants. All play a role in keeping our hearts healthy.

In fact, research shows that eating a daily handful of nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) – a leading cause of death in Australia – by 21%, and the risk of dying from it by 22% (1).

An Australian review found eating nuts impacts a wide range of biomarkers of CVD, including total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (2). And this, in turn, creates an overall CVD risk reduction.

Brain health

Local and international studies consistently show eating nuts is good for brain health. From enhanced learning and memory, to improved mood and better cognitive function, the research on nut intake and brain health is growing all the time.

A systematic review (of 10 previously-published studies, involving more than 66,000 people) concluded: “Higher nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of depression and better mood state in the general population” (5).

The combination of healthy fats and phytochemicals, and the nutrients in nuts, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may help protect vital functions of the brain and its blood vessels.

Weight management

Hundreds of studies have looked at the effects of eating nuts on body weight. This includes a systematic review and meta-analysis of six prospective cohort studies and 86 randomised controlled trials (RCTs), involving more than half a million people (4).

Although nuts are energy-dense foods, research consistently shows that regularly eating nuts actually reduces, not increases, adiposity measures (body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference) (4-6).

There are several possible explanations. Research suggests our bodies don’t absorb all the energy (kilojoules) in nuts (7). Plus, the healthy fats, dietary fibre and plant protein in nuts act to satisfy hunger and reduce appetite. 


A scientific review found that eating a regular 30g handful of nuts (in this case, four times a week) was linked with a 13% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (8).

And for people with type 2 diabetes, studies show that regularly eating nuts can help manage diabetes, and prevent or reduce the progression of diabetes-related complications (9). They do this by helping to improve blood glucose levels and lower HbA1c.

Nuts contain nutrients and bioactive substances, such as healthy fats, fibre and polyphenols, that help improve insulin function, and reduce the rise in blood glucose levels after eating. They also contain magnesium – and studies suggest a diet high in magnesium may reduce type 2 diabetes risk.


Research has shown that a regular 30g handful of nuts can reduce the overall risk of cancer by 15% (1).

A meta-analysis of 33 prospective studies found that a 5g/day increase in total nut intake was linked with a 3%, 6% and 25% lower risk of overall, pancreatic, and colon cancers, respectively (9). And a 5g/day increase in total nut intake was linked with a 4% lower risk of dying from cancer.

The nutrients and bioactive compounds in nuts may play a role in reducing inflammation and insulin resistance. Both can be risk factors for some cancers. They may also decrease oxidative stress, which can cause cancerous mutations.

Did you know? Despite the health benefits of nuts, Australians are not eating enough – with just 2% meeting the target of a handful of nuts a day (10).

Nuts for Life infographic


  1. Balakrishna, R., et al. Consumption of nuts and seeds and health outcomes including cardiovascular, diabetes and metabolic disease, cancer, and mortality: An umbrella review. Advances in Nutrition, 2022. nmac077,
  2. Houston L., et al. Tree nut and peanut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Advances in Nutrition, 2023.
  3. Fernandez-Rodrıguez, R. et al. Does the evidence support a relationship between higher levels of nut consumption, lower risk of depression, and better mood state in the general population? A systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 2022.
  4. Nishi, SK., et al. Are fatty nuts a weighty concern? A systematic review and meta-analysis and dose–response meta-regression of prospective cohorts and randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews. 2021; e13330.
  5. Li, H., et al., Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials. Nutr Metab (Lond), 2018. 15: p. 46.
  6. Flores-Mateo, G., et al. Nut intake and adiposity: Meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr, 2013. 97: 1346-55.
  7. Nikodijevic, CJ., et al. The metabolizable energy and lipid bioaccessibility of tree nuts and peanuts: A systematic review with narrative synthesis of human and in vitro studies. Adv Nutr, 2023.
  8. Afshin, A., et al., Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014. 100(1): p. 278-88.
  9. Viguiliouk, E., et al., Effect of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled dietary trials. PLoS One, 2014. 9(7): p. e103376.
  10. Long, J. et al. Nut consumption and risk of cancer: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020; 29(3):565-73.
  11. Nikodijevic, C.J., et al., Nut consumption in a representative survey of Australians: a secondary analysis of the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. Public Health Nutr, 2020: p. 1-11.

Follow Us

Join the NutENews mailing list

For up to date information & the latest research articles