Nut Butters: Go Nuts, Lose Weight!

Nut butters have become one of the most popular foods in the health world in recent years and for good reason! Nuts are an excellent source of nutrition, full of vitamins, healthy fats and protein. Diets high in nuts have been associated with lower rates of coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes and lower body fat. Nuts that contain oleic and linoleic acid, two healthy fats, and vitamin E, an antioxidant and essential nutrient, can benefit your health.

Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin E plays a role in immune health, gene expression and overall cell function. It is an important antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage from oxygen free radicals, which are formed due to pollution and smoking, but also created through metabolism. Over time, the damage caused by oxygen free radicals can lead to complications including cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidants are able to neutralize the effect of oxygen free radicals.

Benefits of Oleic Acid
Oleic Acid has numerous health benefits including preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease and facilitating wound healing, according to research published in “Medicinal Chemistry.” Oleic Acid may help improve immune system function by helping eliminate bacteria and fungi. It may also lower cholesterol. Scientists who published their work in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” replaced half of the fat in volunteers' diets with healthy fats, including oleic acid. The volunteers either followed their normal diet or were fed a diet consisting of peanuts, almonds and walnuts over a nine week period. Those who received the diet high in nuts saw reductions in their low density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, and total cholesterol anywhere from 5 to 10 percent by the end of the study.

Benefits of Linoleic Acid
Linoleic acid functions as part of cell membranes, enzymes, receptors on cells and in metabolism. Conjugated linoleic acid is a type of linoleic acid and may help reduce abdominal obesity and increase lean body mass, as research published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” concluded. Obese individuals received a form of conjugated linoleic acid or a placebo. At the end of the year long study, both groups receiving the conjugated linoleic acid lost more weight and gained more lean body mass compared to the group receiving the placebo. It is important to note, however, that although there was a measurable difference between the groups, the weight actually lost ranged from only 1 to 2 pounds.

In addition, each nut butter delivers its own health benefits!

Almond Butter
The number one health benefit of almond butter is that it is good for the heart. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are the type of fats that reduce levels of cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart ailments. Almond butter may be effective in lowering blood pressure because it contains minerals that can reduce blood pressure. These minerals are calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which work hand in hand to decrease the pressure and resistance in the blood vessels to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Almond butter can even help control levels of blood sugar in your body by reducing the sudden increase in blood sugar and insulin which usually happens after you eat a carbohydrate-packed meal. This makes it an ideal part of the meal if you are suffering from diabetes.

Peanut Butter
The power of the peanut is a mighty one! Rich in energy and containing health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, peanuts have proven to contribute to a healthy lifestyle in many ways!

Peanuts are a great source of dietary protein, and are made of up fatty acids which are vital for human growth and development. They are an excellent source of resveratrol – an antioxidant which has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer's disease, and viral/fungal infections. Peanuts are rich with good-for-you minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. The mono-unsaturated fatty acids found in peanuts help lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol” level in the blood. Peanut butter is an easy and delicious way to take advantage of all of the health benefits peanuts have to offer.

Go Nuts, Lose Weight!
There is a common misconception about nuts and weight gain. Since nuts are high in calories, many people who are on a weight loss program tend to avoid eating them. However, you should know that people who eat nuts are less likely to become overweight than those who avoid them. Most of the fat in nuts is unsaturated, which is better for you than the saturated kind in meat or the trans fats in many processed foods. It may help stabilize your blood sugar and insulin, the hormone that regulates it.

According to Keri Gans, RDN, and author of The Small Change Diet, almond butter is the variety that will give you the most bang for your buck. "Per serving it has one of the least amounts of calories, it's a good source of protein, and the most fiber of all of the nut butters," she says. Oh, and almonds can play a key role in weight loss. "According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, a breakfast containing almonds may aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels for the rest of the day," says Gans. "When your blood sugar is steady you often have more energy and are less likely to be starved and give in to food cravings."

So whether you like your nut butters in a smoothie or protein shake, spread on your toast or biscuits, enjoy it knowing that you are doing something great for your body!

 

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