Original post in Medical News Today
By Lana Burgess.
Reviewed by Katherine Marengo LDN, RD
Hazelnuts make a tasty snack and are a great addition to many dishes. When a person includes them in a balanced, calorie-controlled diet, the nuts also provide several health benefits.
- vitamin E
- healthful fat
- dietary fiber
In this article, learn how hazelnuts can support health, from lowering cholesterol levels to improving insulin resistance. Hazelnuts may improve a person’s health by:
1. Supporting healthy bowel movements
Hazelnuts are a good source of dietary fiber. Eating plenty of fiber encourages regular bowel movements and helps prevent constipation. Dietary guidelines in the United States recommend that women ages 31–50 eat 25.2 grams (g) of dietary fiber per day. Men in the same age range should eat 30.8 grams of fiber per day. A 28-g serving of hazelnuts contains about 2.7 g of dietary fiber.
2. Reducing weight gain
According to recent research, eating nuts may help some people to gain less weight. A 2018 study found a link between nut consumption, reduced weight gain, and a lower risk of obesity. In the study, participants who ate more nuts were less likely to become overweight than those who did not. While the research shows a correlation, further studies should assess whether there is a causal link between eating nuts and a reduced risk of weight gain.
3. Protecting against cell damage
Hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that protect against the oxidation of cells. They reduce the extent of cell damage from free radicals. Hazelnuts contain the antioxidant vitamin E. Some research suggests that vitamin E may help shield the body from types of cell damage linked to cancer.
4. Lowering cholesterol
Eating hazelnuts may help reduce cholesterol. A 2013 study found that a hazelnut-rich diet decreased participants’ levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This type of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart problems. The researchers concluded that the best way to reap hazelnuts’ health benefits was to eat them every day, without increasing a person’s overall calorie intake. Results of a 2016 review likewise indicated that hazelnuts could reduce levels of harmful cholesterol. The researchers also noted no increase in participants’ body weight. This may alleviate some concerns that eating the calorie-dense nuts could lead to weight gain.
5. Improving insulin sensitivity
Eating a nut mix that includes hazelnuts may help improve insulin sensitivity. A small 2011 trial found that eating a 30-g nut mix that contained 7.5 g of hazelnuts every day improved participants’ insulin sensitivity over 12 weeks. Diminished insulin sensitivity plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Improving this sensitivity reduces the risk of the condition.
6. Supporting heart health
Hazelnuts may help to promote a healthy heart. A 2013 study found that eating a hazelnut-rich diet may improve cardiovascular risk biomarkers, potentially lowering the risk of heart problems.
7. Reducing inflammation
Eating hazelnuts may help to ease inflammation. A 2013 study found that eating a hazelnut-rich diet reduced signs of inflammation among participants. However, another study found the change in inflammatory markers after eating hazelnuts to be insignificant. Conclusively determining hazelnuts’ effect on inflammation will require further research.
8. Improving sperm count
Recent research indicates that consuming more nuts, including hazelnuts, may increase sperm count and improve the sperms’ quality. The researchers emphasize that this small study involved healthy, fertile participants. More research is necessary to determine whether the benefits apply to the broader population.
How to add hazelnuts to your diet
People often eat hazelnuts as a snack or add them to salads. Ground hazelnuts can be incorporated into various recipes. Several ready-made hazelnut spreads are high in sugar, and it is best to avoid these.
Risks and considerations
Many people have nut allergies, including allergies to hazelnuts. When cooking for others, always check before adding the nuts to a dish. To enjoy the health benefits of hazelnuts, a person should be mindful of the overall number of calories that they consume each day. When adding anything to a diet, it can be easy to consume more calories than necessary, and this can lead to weight gain.
A recent study suggests that eating nuts may help reduce weight gain. Eating more hazelnuts may improve a person’s health in a variety of ways.
• support bowel movements
• reduce weight gain
• protect against cell damage
• lower levels of harmful cholesterol
• improve insulin sensitivity
• support heart health
• reduce inflammation
• improve sperm count
Unless a person has an allergy, there are few risks to adding hazelnuts to the diet. They are versatile and make an easy snack.
People can purchase hazelnuts in grocery stores or online.