‘Fat phobias’ keeping nut consumption low
AUSTRALIANS need to increase their consumption of nuts six-fold - or the equivalent of eating an extra nine kilograms a year - to help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes, new research shows.
The University of Wollongong study, published in Public Health Nutrition, found no links between eating nuts and weight gain, however, researchers believe fat phobias may be keeping nut consumption concerningly low.
Just two per cent of Australians were found to eat the recommended 30 grams of nuts a day - about a handful - while 60 per cent did not report eating any nuts.
Lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Neale said the low level of nut consumption was concerning, with the average amount eaten being just 4.6g.
"We see people falling below the requirements pretty consistently in Australia and other countries as well," she said.
"Some research has been conducted in New Zealand which has a very similar nut intake to Australia and they found some people might not be regularly eating nuts because they don't know about some of the health benefits of eating them regularly or they don't know how to include them in recipes or meals.
"Consumers and even some health professionals are worried that eating nuts could cause weight gain, which could be a reason some people limit their nut intake - our study found eating nuts wasn't associated with increased weight.
"This also aligns with previous research that demonstrates that eating moderate amounts of nuts - for example the recommendation of 30g per day - in a healthy diet doesn't result in weight gain."
Those that ate more nuts were found to have significantly higher intakes of key nutrients including fibre, vitamin E, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.
"The body of scientific evidence shows that, as part of a healthy diet, eating approximately 30 grams of nuts a day is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes," Dr Neale said.
Nuts for Life dietitian Belinda Neville said nuts may "help you resist raiding the cookie jar".
"Nuts are rich in protein, good fats and fibre, which is an essential combination for helping to satisfy hunger and reduce appetite," she said.
Brisbane mother of three Alison Cauchois said she regularly incorporates nuts into her family's diet.
"Nuts are a good source of nutrients and really help with their (children's) growth," she said.
"I make a homemade nut muesli slice and will use nuts during cooking."