Nuts may provide up to 26 per cent less kilojoules than previously thought. A series of studies, from the US…
Actual vs target nut intake
Actual vs target nut intake
Dietitians recommend a handful of nuts (around 30g) every day, to gain protective health benefits.
Nuts are a key food within healthy dietary patterns. And decades of research links these naturally-nutritious, whole foods with major health advantages . . . if we eat them!
But there’s the problem.
Most Australians are missing out on the health benefits of eating a daily handful of nuts. Just two per cent of us met the target nut intake of 30g a day.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) are currently under review. A greater prominence for nuts within the next Guidelines would help improve intake.
Target nut intake: How do we fare?
An analysis of Australian Health Survey (AHS) data found that, on average, Australians ate just 4.6g of nuts a day, and around 60 per cent of those surveyed reported not eating any nuts at all (1).
To reap the proven health benefits of nuts, Australians need to drastically increase their nut intake. For most, this would mean eating six times as many nuts as they currently do!
Why eat a handful of nuts every day?
Data from the AHS analysis showed that Australians who ate nuts regularly had higher intakes of key nutrients including fibre, iron, phosphorous, magnesium and vitamin E (1).
Research (2,3) has found that a handful of nuts most days of the week is associated with a:
- 29% reduced risk of heart disease
- 22% reduced risk of mortality
- 21% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- 15% reduced risk of cancer
- 15% reduced risk of death from all causes
- 13% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- 7% reduced risk of stroke.
And eating nuts is linked with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity, and a reduced body weight, body mass index and waist circumference (4-6).
- Nikodijevic, C., et al., Nut consumption in a representative survey of Australians: A secondary analysis of the 2011-2012 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. 2019. Commissioned report for Nuts for Life, University of Wollongong.
- Aune, D., et al., Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: A systematic review and dose-response meta- analysis of prospective studies. BMC Med, 2016. 14(1):207.
- 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):278-88.
- 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. 15:46.
- Eslami, O., et al. Inverse association of long-term nut consumption with weight gain and risk of overweight/obesity: a systematic review. Nutr Res, 2019. 68:1-8.
- Guarneiri, L.L. and J.A. Cooper. Intake of nuts or nut products does not lead to weight gain, independent of dietary substitution instructions: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Adv Nutr, 2020.
Published May 30, 2022