INC: Five Benefits of Eating Nuts and Dried Fruits

The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes eating more fruit,

vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains as specific recommendations for a

healthy diet . Nuts have been consumed for thousands of years, providing

a concentrated source of energy and nutrients, including unsaturated fats,

fiber, vitamins and minerals. Because of their interesting nutritional profile

some studies have evaluated the impact that nuts have on health and have

observed an inverse association between the frequency of nuts consumption

and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and body weight, among others

health issues.

In line, traditional dried fruits also provide essential nutrients, such as fiber

and potassium, and a wide range of phytochemicals that have been related

to health promotion and antioxidant capacity.

Nuts and dried fruits can be consumed as a snack, on top of cereal, in yogurt,

salads, pasta, not to mention their many other uses, and, can provide

us with some important health benefits.

Cardiovascular Disease

The benefits of nuts in relation to cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been

widely supported by both epidemiological and clinical trials.

Scientific studies have clearly demonstrated that consumption of nuts has a

cholesterol-lowering effect, even in the context of a healthy diet. Cardiovascular

diseases are the number one cause of death globally . According to

International Society of Hypertension (ISH), high blood pressure (hypertension)

is the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its prevalence

is expected to increase considerably in the coming years. In fact, hypertension

is expected to increase to 1.56 billion people worldwide by 2025 . Nuts

are low in sodium, which has been related to a lower risk of hypertension in

some studies . A 2009 study observed that nut consumption was associated

with a lower risk of hypertension .

A study published in 2015 observed that tree nut intake was associated with

a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. It

also asserted that nut consumption in general, rather than just a specific

type, was the major reason for the decrease . According to another study,

walnuts may improve endothelial function, decrease both oxidative stress

and some markers of inflammation, and increase cholesterol efflux .

There have been some scientific studies on dried fruits and cardiometabolic

risk factors suggesting that they can lower the postprandial insulin response,

modulate sugar absorption (Glycemic Index), promote satiety and have a

beneficial effect on blood pressure , . A 2009 study observed that simply

replacing one unhealthy snack per day with fruits, dried fruits or unsalted

nuts is associated to a lower cardiovascular risk and is estimated that may

prevent approximately 6,000 cases of CVD per year in the UK .

Weight Control

Nuts not only offer nutritional benefits, but may promote satiety. This is especially

important as obesity rates continue to rise across developed nations.

Nuts have a high energy content, but a 2003 study found that nut

consumption is not associated with higher body mass index compared with

non-nut consumers .

Several lines of evidence show that nuts have high satiety properties. In

fact, long-term nut consumption is associated with lower weight gain and

overweight/obesity .

Type 2 Diabetes

The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980

to 422 million in 2014 , becoming a serious public health problem. Some

studies have investigated the effect of nut consumption and the relation

with diabetes. In particular, a 2011 PREDIMED study observed a reduction

on the diabetes incidence of 52%, when two groups supplemented, one

with olive oil and the other one with 30 g of nuts (1 oz) per day (a mix of

walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) were compared with the control group .

Some studies suggest that dried fruit consumption is good for people who

have diabetes. A study by Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerotic Research

Center observed that consuming raisins as an alternative to processed snacks

had a significant 23% reduction in postpandrial glucose levels .

Gastrointestinal Function

Dried fruits are well-known sources of dietary fiber, which has a direct effect

on gastrointestinal function. In fact, in 2013, prunes were granted a specific

EU health claim for their contribution to digestive health. The permitted

health claim reads: “Dried plums/prunes contribute to normal bowel function”.

Eating 100 g of prunes (3.5 oz, 8-12 pieces) daily gives the effect of

favourable digestive health and provides more than 19% of the daily recommended

intake of fibre.

There is also scientific evidence that suggests that prunes may improve stool

frequency and consistency in cases of constipation .


Osteoporosis is a debilitating disorder that affects both men and women.

Aside from existing drug therapies, certain lifestyle and nutritional factors

are known to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Among nutritional factors,

recent observations suggest that prunes might be effective in both preventing

and reversing bone loss .

In addition, a 2011 study suggests that prunes may improve the bone mineral

density in postmenopausal women .

About the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council

The International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC) members include

more than 700 nut and dried fruit-sector companies from over 70 countries.

INC is the international organization of reference regarding health, nutrition,

statistics, food safety, international standards and regulations relating

to nuts and dried fruits.