Among the iconic holiday visuals this time of year is the stoic face of a bearded man in red. Not to be confused with jolly Saint Nick, the Nutcracker toy solider stands erect on many fireplace mantles and kitchen countertops each December, waiting to serve his act of duty by crunching shells with his seemingly unbreakable jaw.

Although this festive figurine knows nothing of the nutritional value enclosed inside the nuts on which he chomps, those seeking to live an active lifestyle might want to consider feeding him more often. A recent study from the American Heart Association revealed some intriguing findings about eating nuts.

The results of the study led researchers to conclude that eating certain kinds of nuts may help minimize weight gain and provide various cardiovascular benefits. An article from Science Daily included the following summary of the report:

In the analysis of nuts’ impact on weight, researchers followed health professionals who were free of chronic disease at the start of the study. They found that eating a one one-ounce serving of any type of nuts or peanuts, in place of foods generally considered low in nutritional value, was associated with a lower risk of long-term weight gain and obesity.

Nut consumption was assessed through a food-frequency questionnaire submitted to participants every four years in three different established study groups of 25,394 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, 53,541 women in the Nurse’s Health Study and 47,255 women in the Nurse’s Health Study II in follow-up research. 

Findings revealed that:

  • Eating a daily serving of any type of nut or peanuts was associated with less risk of weight gain or becoming obese over the four-year intervals.
  • Substituting one serving a day of any type of nuts in place of one serving of red meat, processed meat, French fries, desserts or potato chips was associated with less weight gain over the four-year intervals.

Weight ought not be the solitary focus, nor most important factor in staying healthy, but nutritional awareness is crucial in optimal physical fitness. A proper balance of daily fats, sugars, protein, and vitamins should be a high priority, so go ahead and go nuts this year.

The slender man on the counter may prove to be a better influence on your health than the portly one sliding down the chimney for milk and cookies. Of course, that depends on what he leaves under the tree.

To read the full summary from Science Daily click here.