March is #nuts30days30ways when the Australian Tree Nut Industry encourages everyone to develop a healthy nut habit by eating a 30g handful of nuts every day in March. Australians are eating on average just 6g of nuts a day well short of the recommended 30g serve.

Tree nuts such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts, are often the forgotten cousins in the heart healthy diet family tree. Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains are routinely recommended but nuts are so often overlooked. Why is that? These highly nutritious foods are so worthy of the health halo that surrounds fruits and vegetables. Let’s take a look at how nuts help protect the heart and yes, surprisingly, help with managing weight.

Heart Health

Large population studies consistently show that eating a handful of nuts (30g) regular reduces the risk of developing heart disease by 30-50% as well as reduce death from heart disease. It seems it’s the combination of nut nutrients working together that protects the heart:


Nuts contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which help regulate cholesterol production. On average 60g or two handfuls of nuts a day results in a significant drop in total cholesterol and an even higher one if you are overweight.


Nuts contain the amino acid arginine which converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels which in turn can reduce blood pressure.

Fibre and plant sterols

These reduce cholesterol re-absorption in the gut excreting it from the body.

Antioxidant vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals

Nuts, particularly their skins, contain a range of antioxidants including: vitamin E, selenium, copper, manganese, zinc and phytochemicals such as polyphenols like resveratrol found in red wine. These all help boost the body’s own defensive antioxidant enzyme systems while having anti-inflammatory effects.

Glycemic Index lowering effect and improving insulin sensitivity

Chronic inflammation can lead to insulin resistance which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Adding nuts to carbohydrate rich meals slows the rise in blood glucose improves insulin sensitivity and reduces diabetes risk. If you have diabetes you have twice the risk of heart disease so nuts are a dietary essential for you.

Weight management

In general if you eat nuts you gain less weight and are more likely to have a normal body mass index (BMI). This is because nuts:

Satisfy hunger & reduce appetite

The protein and fibre in nuts keep you feeling fuller for longer. Plus healthy fats helps release satiety hormones in your digestive system which also curbs hunger. Eating a snack of nuts means you have less desire to overeat later in the day, helping to reduce your overall daily energy intake.

Fewer kilojoules absorbed

As a whole food rich with fibre, the digestion and absorption of the energy in nuts is incomplete. It’s estimated that between 5 and 15% of the energy in nuts is not absorbed. Some of the fat in nuts passes through your system trapped in the nuts’ fibrous structure.

Increased metabolic rate

The physical effort the body uses to digest nuts also increases energy expenditure, which is estimated to be around 10% of the energy the nuts contain.

Low glycemic index effect

A slower rise in blood glucose helps satisfy the appetite for longer meaning you eat less overall so add nuts to meals especially if they contain carbohydrates eg bread, rice and pasta.


People who enjoy their weight management diet are more likely to stick with it for longer and have greater success.

How much and how often

So we need at least a 30g serve of nuts a day and 30g equals:
20 almonds
10 Brazil nuts
15 cashews
4 chestnuts
20 hazelnuts
15 macadamias
15 pecans
2 tb pine nuts
30 pistachio kernels
9 walnuts
a handful of mixed nuts

In a nut shell……..

Nuts are an essential plant food we need every day so join us for #nuts30days30ways. The unique combination of nutrients all work together to: lower cholesterol and blood glucose, reduce the risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes plus help manage body weight. So nuts are definitely worthy carrying the health halo.
For more information and recipes visit www.nutsforlife.com.au or follow T @nutsforlife , FB @nuts4Life and I @nuts_for_life and search for #nuts30days30ways


1) ABS 4364.0.55.007 – Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.007main+features22011-12
2) National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/Copyright%20update/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines(1).pdf
3) 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 Dec 5;14(1):207
4) Fraser GE, et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease Arch Intern Med 1992;152:1416–24.
5) Hu FB, Stampfer MJ. Nut consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Review of Epidemiologic Evidence Current Athero Reports 1999;1:205–210.
6) Ellsworth JL, et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2001;11(6):372-7.
7) Albert CM, et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physician’s Health Study Arch Intern Med 2002;162(12):1382–7.
8) Blomhoff R. et al. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Brit J Nutr 2007;96(SupplS2):S52-S60.
9) Kris-Etherton PM, et al. The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of coronary heart disease: multiple potential mechanisms. J Nutr. 2008;138(9):1746S-1751S.
10) Nuts for Life 2017 Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts cited https://www.nutsforlife.com.au/resources/nutrient-composition
11) Del Gobbo LC, et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1347-56.
12) Ros E. Nuts and novel biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1649S-56S
13) Blum A, Miller H. The effects of L-arginine on atherosclerosis and heart disease Int J Cardiovasc Intervent 1999;2(2):97–100.
14) Wu Y et al. Association between dietary fiber intake and risk of coronary heart disease: A meta-analysis. Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;34(4):603-11.
15) Moruisi KG et al. Phytosterols/stanols lower cholesterol concentrations in familial hypercholesterolemic subjects: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Feb;25(1):41-8.
16) Bolling BW, McKay DL, Blumberg JB. The phytochemical composition and antioxidant actions of tree nuts. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):117-23.
17) Casas-Agustench P, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J. Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):124-30.
18) Schofield CJ, Sutherland C. Disordered insulin secretion in the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2012 Aug;29(8):972-9.
19) Jenkins, D.J., et al., Almonds decrease postprandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006;136(12):2987-92.
20) Josse, A.R., et al., Almonds and postprandial glycemia–a dose-response study. Metabolism 2007;56(3):400-4.
21) Kendall, C., et al., Effect of Pistachios on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels and Gut Satiety Hormone Responses. FASEB J., 2009;23(1_MeetingAbstracts): 563.2.
22) 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 Jul 30;9(7):e103376.
23) Casas-Agustench P, et al. of one serving of mixed nuts on serum lipids, insulin resistance and inflammatory markers in patients with the metabolic syndrome. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Dec 21. Article in press
24) Mora-Cubillos X et al. Plasma metabolomic biomarkers of mixed nuts exposure inversely correlate with severity of metabolic syndrome. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Dec;59(12):2480-90.
25) Afshin A, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Mozaffarian D. 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 Jun 4;100(1):278-288.
26) Barr, E.L.M., et al., Risk of Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality in Individuals With Diabetes Mellitus, Impaired Fasting Glucose, and Impaired Glucose Tolerance: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity, and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation 2007;116(2):151-157.
27) Bes-Rastrollo, M, et al. Prospective study of nut consumption, long-term weight change, and obesity risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89: 1913-9.
28) Mattes RD, Dreher ML. Nuts and healthy body weight maintenance mechanisms. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2010;19(1):137-41.
29) Pereira MA, et al. Dietary fiber and body-weight regulation. Observations and mechanisms. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001;48(4):969-80.
30) Noakes, M. The role of protein in weight management. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008;17(S1):169-71.
31) Kendall CW et al. Acute effects of pistachio consumption on glucose and insulin, satiety hormones and endothelial function in the metabolic syndrome. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;68(3):370-5.
32) Pasman WJ, et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008:20;7:10.
33) Hughes GM, et al. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis. 2008;7:6.
34) Cassady BA, et al. Mastication of almonds: effects of lipid bioaccessibility, appetite, and hormone response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(3):794-800
35) Mattes, R, The energetics of nut consumption. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2008; 17(S1): 337-9.
36) Traoret CJ, et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(2):322-8
37) Ford H, Frost G. Glycaemic index, appetite and body weight. Proc Nutr Soc.2010;69(2):199-203.
38) Nuts for Life Dietary Tips cited https://www.nutsforlife.com.au/media/healthy-handful

Share this post: