Lower your disease risk with this on-the-go snack

Many of us associate nuts with the fall harvest. They go well in many of my favorite savory dishes at this time of year. I just made a healthy, delicious cranberry-pecan chicken salad in that spirit. (Three cups shredded, cooked chicken, three-quarters cup each of chopped celery, chopped pecans and dried cranberries. Mix with half-cup of avocado “mayo” and chill for one hour.)

Plus, nuts are like Nature’s original nutritional supplements. They’re high in B vitamins and vitamin E. Nuts are also high in minerals like calcium, chromium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. And they even have some fiber. Pretty impressive, considering their small size!

But for decades, the government warned us to avoid nuts because of their “high” fat content. They consigned nuts to the “snack food” category ⎯ together with chips and other genuine junk foods ⎯ because they’re relatively high in fats (and calories).

But it turns out, the advice to avoid these fats was all wrong, all along.

Natural fats found in foods like nuts aren’t the enemy they were once made out to be. Moreover, we need the fats found in nuts — they’re essential for our health.

Getting the fatty acid ratio right

As I often advise, you should look for ways to limit your consumption of unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which research links to good health.

But Americans get too many omega-6s (found in grain products and vegetable oils).

In fact, the standard American diet has a very high 20:1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s. For those who eat lots of processed foods, the ratio is probably more like a whopping 40:1.

By comparison, nuts contain a much healthier ratio with lower omega-6s and higher omega-3s. You should aim to achieve this kind of healthy ratio in your overall diet by eating nuts daily and eliminating junk foods, most grains, and vegetable oils.

Commercially produced beef, chicken and pork also contain higher amounts of omega-6s, which come from the animals’ unnatural high-grain and soy diets. Most livestock and poultry farmers initially raise animals on grass, then switch them to grains and soy to fatten them up for market.

On the other hand, cows kept on grass diets (grass-fed beef) contain two-to-five times higher amounts of healthy omega-3s compared to commercially raised cattle.

Sadly, the government misled many Americans for decades into thinking omega-6 fats were beneficial for our health. Unfortunately, the American Heart Association, (AHA) still hasn’t caught up on the science. They still promote the pro-inflammatory, unhealthy vegetable oils with more omega-6 fats like corn, canola, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oil. And they remain obsessed about restricting fats and salt. But they virtually ignore the importance of limiting sugar — the primary cause of Type II diabetes as well cardiometabolic heart disease.

But the AHA isn’t alone.

Even the American Diabetes Association focuses almost exclusively on restricting fats and virtually ignores the importance of restricting sugar.

A handful a day lowers disease risk

Research shows just a daily handful of nuts improves blood sugar and reduces the risk of Type II diabetes, heart disease, and several cancers. In fact, studies show that eating walnuts is far more effective (and certainly safer) than taking statin drugs to prevent heart disease.

For years, walnut growers wanted to share the truth with consumers about these studies, but the FDA shut them down in a heartbeat.

Walnuts also benefit brain health — which perhaps isn’t so surprising, considering a walnut’s shape is similar to that of the human brain!

Indeed, according to a folklore medical tradition, the shape of a plant in Nature indicates the organ that it benefits. So ⎯ since walnuts look like the brain, they must benefit the brain. Kidney beans look like kidneys, so they must benefit kidneys. And mushrooms ⎯ well ⎯ mushrooms benefit virility. It all turns out to be true according to the science.

In medieval Europe, these beliefs were part of “the doctrine of signatures,” which led colonial physicians in 17th and 18th century America to adopt Native American traditional remedies into regular medical practice.

Don’t spend a lot of money to eat well

Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on nuts. First off, they’re less expensive and last longer if you buy them in the shell and in bulk.

Secondly, you can opt for less expensive peanuts. Peanuts are a legume with nearly the lowest cost of any food, pound-per-pound, as a source of protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, research shows peanuts (but not sugar-laden peanut butter) confer all the same nutritional benefits as more expensive tree nuts.

To keep your healthy ratio of lower omega-6s to higher omega-3s, eat a handful of nuts a day. This routine will help you maintain a healthy weight, as I explain in my special report, The “Top of the Food Chain” Cure for Obesity. (This report is available for free to current subscribers via www.DrMicozzi.com. For access, simply log in to the “Subscriber” section of the website with your username and password. You may download the report under the “Library of Confidential Cures,” on the right side of the web page. Not a subscriber? Now’s the perfect time to join.