Whilst reporting on the clear health benefits of eating nuts won’t be earth shattering to many, another study this week found that women who eat just 2 handfuls of nuts a week may extend their lives by the same amount of time that could be gained by jogging 4 hours a week. What’s the new evidence and can you improve employee health with more nuts?
Harvard University researchers found that women at high risk of heart disease who had a tablespoon of peanut butter 5 or more days a week appeared to nearly halve their risk of suffering a heart attack compared with women who ate one serving or less per week.
It seems nuts could also prevent breast cancer. The study found that adolescent girls who had one or more servings of peanuts a week appeared to have a significantly lower risk of developing lumpy breasts – which can be a marker for an increased risk of breast cancer.
And whilst many people avoid eating nuts in fear of getting fat – it now appears that you can get a pretty decent serving of the savoury snack without gaining the expected weight. There have been almost 20 clinical trials on the relationship between nuts and weight gain – but the nut-eaters (who each ate a handful or two of nuts a day) either had less weight gain than expected, no weight gain, or lost weight.
The results in one of the trials showed that participants who were eating a whopping 120 pistachios every day for three months didn’t appear to gain even the tiniest amount of weight. That amount of pistachio eating would account for 30,000 calories so, how do the calories disappear? One theory is that many of the cell walls of nuts pass undigested through the gastrointestinal tract — accounting for 10 per cent of the disappearing calories. The fact that nuts can make you feel full faster than some other foods probably accounts for about 70 per cent of the rest. And the remaining 20 per cent? The answer appears to lie in the ability of nuts to boost metabolism — so when you eat nuts, you burn more of your own fat.
So how can you improve employee health? Here are a few tips that you can introduce into your workplace:
- Does your company leave sweets out in their reception area? Try swapping these with pistachios; they’re encased in a shell and therefore, they’re a hygenic nut to leave out.
- If you have a canteen ensure that peanut butter is a well-promoted option. With clear health benefits, it is also a rich protein source, leaving employees fuller for longer.
- Educate your staff on the benefits of eating nuts. For example, Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral that may protect against prostate cancer.
- Do you have a vending machine that is in constant use? For employees who need a sugar kick, provide them with an alternative such as glazed nuts. They come in flavors like Almonds with Cranberries, Honey, and Sea Salt and are sweetened with organic cane juice and tapioca syrup, which contains around just 6 grams of sugar per ounce. A much healthier alternative than a chocolate bar!
Finally, and whilst the employee health benefits of nuts are clear, please be mindful of employees who may have a nut allergy. If you do introduce more nuts into the workplace then ensure that this is communicated thoroughly so anyone with an allergy is fully aware of the risks around them. Employees with a food allergy are often given a device known as an auto-injector pen, which contains doses of adrenaline that can be used in emergencies.