Hello NutENews readers,
Welcome to last issue of NutENews for 2017.
As the year winds to a close we’d like to wish all our NutENews readers and supporters a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.
To finish off the year, we’re highlighting two studies on nuts and brain health. Nuts have been in the limelight since the early 1990’s with the publication of two landmark studies showing the benefits of nuts for reduced risk of coronary heart disease, and for lowering blood cholesterol. More recently, research is highlighting the benefits of nuts on brain health.
I’ll also showcase three other research studies which once again, highlight the importance of nuts in our diet:
- Nut consumption is associated with lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Walnuts and appetite control.
- Nut consumption and mortality.
There’s no doubt that nuts are one of those essential plant foods we must include in our daily diet.
I’ll share some Tips on why eating nuts over the holiday season is a good idea.
And to celebrate Christmas, why not give our feature recipe a go – Healthy Christmas Cake made with almond meal, blanched almonds and walnuts, and packed with dried fruit and spices, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Recipe via Australian Healthy Food Guide Magazine (Dec 2017), from “Food as Medicine: Cooking for your Best Health” by Sue Radd.
Thank you for your support over 2017 and we look forward to bringing more nut stories across your desk in 2018.
Don’t forget, for everything you want to know about nuts, or for images and other resources, please visit our website. You can also follow us on social media where we share recipes, tips and research bites.
NUTS AND BRAIN HEALTH RESEARCH
Nuts and Brainwaves – A new study by researchers at Loma Linda University Health has found that eating nuts on a regular basis strengthens brainwave frequencies associated with cognition, healing, learning, memory and other key brain functions.
An abstract of the study was presented recently in San Diego, California, and published in the FASEB Journal.
In the study titled "Nuts and brain: Effects of eating nuts on changing electroencephalograph brainwaves," researchers found that some nuts stimulated some brain frequencies more than others. Pistachios, for instance, produced the greatest gamma wave response, which is critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep. Peanuts, which are actually legumes, but were still part of the study, produced the highest delta response, which is associated with healthy immunity, natural healing, and deep sleep.
Nuts and Depression (SMILES Trial) – A randomised controlled 12-week trial showed that depressed adults following a ModiMedDiet (including 1 serve raw, unsalted nuts/day) had significantly greater improvements in treatment of depression compared to those following a social support program.
The Supporting the Modification of lifestyle In Lowered Emotional States (SMILES) trial aimed to investigate the efficacy of a dietary program for the treatment of major depressive episodes, compared to a social support control condition in reducing the severity of depressive symptomatology.
The dietary program: the ‘ModiMedDiet’, (refer Food Pyramid image above) was based on the Australian Dietary guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines for Adults in Greece. The primary focus was on increasing diet quality by supporting the consumption of 12 key food groups (recommended servings in brackets): whole grains (5–8 servings per day); vegetables (6 per day); fruit (3 per day), legumes (3–4 per week); low-fat and unsweetened dairy foods (2–3 per day); raw and unsalted nuts (1 per day); fish (at least 2 per week); lean red meats (3–4 per week) , chicken (2–3 per week); eggs (up to 6 per week); and olive oil (3 tablespoons per day), whilst reducing intake of ‘extras’ foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks (no more than 3 per week). Red or white wine consumption beyond 2 standard drinks per day and all other alcohol (e.g. spirits, beer) were included within the ‘extras’ food group. Individuals were advised to select red wine preferably and only drink with meals.
Results: The dietary support group demonstrated significantly greater improvement in MADRS scores between baseline and 12 weeks than the social support control group. The MADRS is an interviewer-rated instrument, comprising 10 items, each measured on a 6-point scale (scores range from 0–60 with higher scores depicting greater symptom severity).
Conclusion: The closer the adherence to the ModiMedDiet, the more the depressive symptoms improved. In other words, the quality of the diet is closely related to mental and brain health.
Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease – Research from Harvard has concluded that nut consumption is associated with lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The research investigated over 200,000 study subjects from three prospective cohorts assessing nut consumption in relation to CVD, with follow-up for up to 32 years. Results show that participants consuming nuts 5 or more times/week had a 14% lower risk of CVD and a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); but not a lower risk of stroke, compared with participants with the lowest nut consumption. The consistency of findings strongly suggests a causal association between nut consumption and CVD and CHD protection.
The findings support recommendations of increasing the intake of a variety of nuts as part of healthy dietary patterns to reduce the risk of chronic diseases in the general population.
Walnuts and appetite – new research may help explain why nut consumption may lower the risk of obesity
It appears that walnuts appear to activate a brain region involved in appetite and impulse control.
For the study, nine people with obesity drank a smoothie that contained about 14 ground walnut halves or a placebo smoothie (identical in taste and calories) for five consecutive days. After a month on their regular diets, the participants returned for another five days, during which the placebo group drank walnut smoothies and vice versa. On day five of both periods, they underwent brain imaging tests while looking at pictures of desirable foods (such as burgers and cake), less desirable foods (vegetables), or neutral pictures of rocks and trees.
When people looked at desirable foods, the brain scans showed more activity in an area known as the right insula after the walnut smoothies than after the placebo drinks. Higher activity in that brain region may reflect enhanced restraint in the face of desirable (and less healthy) foods. That, in turn, may foster healthier food choices, say the authors.
Nut consumption and mortality – nut consumption is associated with reduced all-cause and cause-specific mortality
The findings of a recent meta-analysis suggest that nut consumption is associated with reduced all-cause and cause-specific mortality, with the strongest reduction for CHD mortality. Both tree nuts and peanuts may lower mortality and most of the survival benefits may be achieved at a relative low level of nut consumption.
So, there you have it – more evidence to support the fact that eating nuts is good for your health.
Encourage your friends and family, work colleagues and clients to eat at least a handful of nuts… every day.
Top Xmas Tips
Traditionally, the festive season is full of social activities and parties whether it be with work colleagues, with friends or with family. They often involve lots of eating, and often lots of drinking too. You may also spend time on holidays, which can take you away from your usual eating and exercise routines. But whilst the festive season is an enjoyable and relaxing time of year, the result could be unwanted weight gain.
So, here’s why nuts are a perfect choice to have on hand over the Christmas break:
- Research shows that the fat content of nuts may cause the release of satiety hormones, helping you to feel full
- Nuts are full of fibre and protein, both of which act to satisfy hunger and reduce appetite
- Nuts can increase metabolism by as much as 10% after eating them
- Nuts have a low GI effect – meaning that they can lower the GI of a meal, which can help satisfy the appetite for longer
- As much as 15% of the energy in nuts is excreted – in other words, you don’t absorb all the energy in nuts
- If you eat nuts in their shell (which are usually always available over Christmas), the mere process of cracking the shells will slow-down your eating pace.
And here’s a few tips on getting nuts into your day:
- Start your day the right way with a fibre-full brekkie – try a smoothie or bircher with oats, fruit and or course, a handful of nuts
- Toss them into salads, or make a dressing out of blitzed nuts
- Snack on nuts between meals – try making your own spiced nuts for something different
- Add nuts to your cheese and fruit platter
- Try roasted chestnuts in place of potatoes with your Christmas meal
- Roasted chestnuts are perfect in a home-made poultry stuffing
- Crush nuts over fresh fruit and yoghurt/ice-cream
- Use a pure nut spread (e.g. almond or brazil nut spread) on toast in place of butter or margarine.
- Add extra crunch to dips with nuts (e.g. macadamias or walnut pieces)
HEALTHY CHRISTMAS CAKE RECIPE
This recipe takes the Christmas cake to a whole new level. Made with almond meal, blanched almonds and walnuts, and packed with dried fruit and spices, it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Recipe via Australian Health Food Guide Magazine (Dec 2017), from “Food as Medicine: Cooking for your Best Health” by Sue Radd.
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 whole orange
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cassia
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 600g dried apricots, figs and raisin (use equal amounts of each), coarsely chopped
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup plain wholemeal flour
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- 20 blanched almonds
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- Grease a round 18cm baking tin or rectangular 13x23cm loaf tin with olive oil, then line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs, oil, orange zest and juice, and stir in spices and vanilla extract.
- Add dried fruit, almond meal, flour and walnuts to the mixture. Fold until well combined so that there are no clumps of fruit.
- Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking tin, pressing it down to remove any air pockets. Make a gentle hollow in the middle to prevent the cake from peaking.
- Press the almonds on top into a pattern and then bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cooked (cover cake in foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent raisins from burning). Test cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the middle of the cake, which should come out fairly dry.
- When cooked, remove cake from oven, but leave in tin for about 30 minutes.
- Remove cake from tin, peel off baking paper and cool completely on wire rack.
- Warm jam and brush over the top for a glaze.
- Store cake in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 weeks. Also suitable for freezing.
- Fraser, G.E., et al., A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med, 1992. 152(7): p. 1416-24.
- Sabate, J., et al., Effects of walnuts on serum lipid levels and blood pressure in normal men. N Engl J Med, 1993. 328(9): p. 603-7.