New research shows that many Australians need to increase their nut intake six-fold, if they’re to gain the significant health benefits associated with regularly eating nuts.

The University of Wollongong study, published today in Public Health Nutrition, is the first to analyse nut consumption in Australia, including in whole nuts, as well as nuts incorporated into other foods, including breakfast cereal and muesli bars.

The study revealed just 2% of Australians ate the recommended 30g of nuts a day (about a handful) and 60% of Australians did not report eating any nuts at all.

Only 2% of Australians are eating the recommended 30g of nuts each day.

Public Health Nutrition, 2020

Lead researcher, University of Wollongong’s Dr Elizabeth Neale said the low level of nut consumption was concerning.

“The body of scientific evidence shows that, as part of a healthy diet, eating approximately 30g of nuts a day is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes,” said Dr Neale.

The research, commissioned by Nuts for Life, also showed that eating nuts is not associated with higher weight, BMI, or waist circumference. Weight concerns are frequently cited by Australians as a reason for not eating nuts.

Summary of results

  • Mean nut intake of nuts is around 4.6g a day.
  • Nut consumption is lowest among children, almost half the mean intake of adults.
  • Most nuts are consumed as whole nuts or part of core foods. Less than 12% are consumed through discretionary foods.
  • Greater nut consumption is associated with significantly higher intakes of key nutrients, including fibre, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.
  • Eating nuts is not associated with higher body weight.

Nut consumption, nutrients, and better health

A Nuts for Life report, published in late 2019, presents the results of this research alongside a summary of the evidence of the health benefits of regular nut consumption. A 30g handful of nuts on most days of the week is associated with:

  • 29% reduced risk of chronic heart disease
  • 21% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • 13% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • 15% reduced risk of total cancer
  • Reduced all-cause mortality
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