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NutENews June 2015

logo-health Welcome to NutENews

We have had a mad media month in May with two major activities showcasing the benefits of nuts for heart health and weight management. I’d like to share these with you here so ……like always…… have a read while you’re nibbling on your daily handful of nuts…..

Lisa Yates
Program Manager and Dietitian Nuts for Life
Nuts for Life

383b6156-0572-47e8-9c7d-75d8fe50d496 At the Dietitians Association of Australia 32nd National Conference, May 13-16 in Perth, Nuts for Life supported the travel arrangements for Professor Richard Mattes from Purdue Unversity USA. Prof Mattes is an international authority on hunger, satiety and energy balance and during his key note presentation he shared the strong evidence challenging the misconceptions about nuts, weight and diabetes.

Nut are high in fat and energy dense and as a result are often restricted in diets to manage weight and diabetes risk.

The Australia Health Survey (2011-13) revealed 2.3 million Australians, aged 15 years and over, reported being on a diet to lose weight or for health reasons.1 One in four (27.5 per cent) of Australian adults are obese and a further 35 per cent overweight, while 5.1 per cent have diabetes.1

“Epidemiological trials reveal no association or an inverse association between the frequency of nut consumption and weight gain, BMI or diabetes risk,” said Prof Mattes.
“While, clinical trials document the inclusion of a moderate portion of nuts, up to 40 grams a day, does not pose a risk for weight gain.
“Nuts may also be especially useful as a snack because they provide a wide range of nutrients while having little impact on daily energy intake.”

Prof. Mattes presented the three key reasons that nuts have a limited impact on weight and energy balance:


  • High satiety: Nuts are highly satiating suppressing both hunger and the desire to eat in the absence of hunger. This leads to strong dietary compensation where people eat less throughout the day. The reduction in eating at subsequent meals or snacks accounts for about 66-75% of the kilojoules a portion of nuts provides.
  • Inefficient energy absorption: The kilojoules that nuts contain are not efficiently absorbed. Due to the resistance of the nut cells walls to digestion, the fat they contain is not readily accessible, so up to 20% of the energy as fat is excreted through stools.
  • Increased resting metabolic rate: Long-term nut consumption is associated with an 5-10% elevation of resting energy expenditure so we burn more energy eating nuts.

All good reasons to include a 30-40g handful of nuts in the diet each day.

Then two weeks later Nuts for Life launched our Nut Heart Health Report

Image In 2014 Nuts for Life commissioned Landmark Nutrition, a nutrition research consulting agency, along with Prof Linda Tapsell AM* from the University of Wollongong to undertake a systematic literature review of all the research for nuts, heart disease and weight. After reviewing some 100 studies spanning over 20 years, the review concluded that regular nut consumption, as part of a healthy diet, contributes to heart health without causing weight gain. This evidence has been summarised into a 16 page report The Nut Heart Health report available here:

*Prof Linda Tapsell was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australia Day Honours list for her significant service to health science as an academic and clinician specialising in diet and nutrition. We congratulate her on this wonderful career achievement

New Australian Research Confirms Links Between Nuts Consumption And Heart Health

Image High quality scientific evidence confirms regular nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and a reduction in heart disease risk factors.
Leading nutrition academic and review co-author Prof Linda Tapsell AM said there is consistent evidence for the heart health benefit of nut consumption.

“The review establishes that regular nut consumption as part of a healthy diet is associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease and a reduction in risk factors for heart disease, in particular cholesterol,” said Prof Tapsell.

“Importantly the benefits with heart health were observed without any adverse effects on weight gain and outcomes were shown to be sustained for periods as long as 20 years.

The contribution of nuts to a healthy diet can be easily underestimated. They’re often relegated to a snack food category and sometimes avoided by people trying to lose weight. This scientific evidence provides a very different perspective that deserves attention.”

Key findings include:

  • Nut consumption was associated with a moderately reduced risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.2 Fifteen studies were examined including two key observational studies: a US study of 118, 962 people that reported a 30% reduced risk of death from heart disease3 and a study of 86,016 women reported a 35% reduced risk of total coronary heart disease respectively.4
  • Eating tree nuts was consistently associated with an unweighted average reduction in total cholesterol of around 3.5%, LDL cholesterol of 4.2% and improved the LDL:HDL ratio, a key indicator of heart disease risk, by 7.3%.2
  • Eating nuts was not associated with weight gain, a risk factor for heart disease.2 The studies showed no increase in weight, BMI and waist circumference based on a consumption of nuts ranging from 15-126 grams a day.2

“Based on this body of research, nuts can be considered a regular dietary inclusion. Like other plant foods, nuts deliver important components to the diet and as such they can easily be front of mind alongside fruit, vegetables and grains,” said Prof Tapsell.

The amount of nuts eaten in the reviewed studies ranged from 15-168 grams of nuts per day making it difficult to determine an exact dose at which nuts make the greatest contribution without further analysis. However, in reviewing the evidence and the current Australian Dietary Guidelines, the researchers concluded 30 grams, or a handful, a day in a healthy diet is an appropriate recommendation targeting heart health benefits without the risk of weight gain.

Nut consumption in Australia falls a long way short of the recommended 30 gram handful. The documents that underpin the Australian Dietary Guidelines note that for the population, an increase in nut consumption by 350% would align with Healthy dietary models.5 The recent Australia Health Survey (2011-13) results show on average the population reported eating just 5-6g of nuts on the day of the survey.1

Since the review was finalised in early 2015, new published research has continued to build on the body of evidence. A meta-analysis, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that higher nut consumption, around 30 grams of nuts a day, was associated with a reduced risk of death from heart disease by 40%, all causes by 27% and cancer by 14%, when compared to people who ate nuts less than once a week.6

Nuts are nutrient dense and rich in nutrients which contribute to heart health such as healthy fats, plant omega 3 ALA, fibre, vitamin E and phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. The amino acid arginine aids endothelial function by helping blood vessels to dilate and remain elastic, as well as helping to prevent blood clots. Regular nut consumption increases LDL cholesterol particle size – helping to make the cholesterol particles less destructive.

So in a nutshell – 30g or a handful of nuts a day are healthy and nutritious, they’re good for reducing the risk of heart disease and death from heart disease because they help control cholesterol and they do this without the risk of weight gain. Good news all round so let’s get Aussies eat more nuts!


  1. ABS 2014 Australian Health Survey 2011-13 Biomedical results
  2. Neale. E, Nolan Clark D and Tapsell LT. The effect of nut consumption on heart health: a systematic review of the literature. Nuts for Life North Sydney 2015. (unpublished).
  3. Bao Y, Han J, Hu FB, Giovannucci EL, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Fuchs CS. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2013 Nov 21;369(21):2001-11.
  4. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. Brit Med J 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
  5. National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.
  6. ABS 4364.0.55.003 – Australian Health Survey: Updated Results, 2011-2012. Australian Government 2015.
  7. Grosso G et al. Nut consumption on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):783-93.

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