Go Mad for a Med Mix!

Study shows strong health benefits of mixed nuts.

For thousands of years, the Mediterraneans have got the basics right with a recipe for healthy eating that other nations around the world aspire to. Much of this is attributed to their diet, and now it is revealed they have a secret weapon in their pantry.

Reputed to be rich in fish, olive oil, whole grains and vegetables, what is less well-known is that the Mediterranean diet also includes mixed nuts - packed full of nutrients and a multitude of health benefits.

A recently released study [1] has found that including 30g of mixed nuts a day in a Mediterranean style diet provides a range of long term health benefits. The five-year Spanish study[1] concludes that the addition of mixed nuts in the Mediterranean diet has led to improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and its risk factors, weight management, brain health, and a reduced risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

The study [1] also debunks the misconception that eating nuts leads to weight gain. When Nuts for Life Australia carried out its own survey - appropriately titled Nuts & The Big Fat Myth (2012) - it revealed that 98% of Australians do not eat a handful of nuts a day. Their number one reason is due to concerns about the fat content of nuts and their potential to cause weight gain. [2]

In fact, the opposite is true. Eating mixed nuts, independent of other lifestyle variables, is inversely associated with both body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. [1]

New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietician Sarah Hanrahan says, that she wouldn’t be surprised if many New Zealanders have the same attitude when it comes to the myth that nuts can cause weight gain.

“People shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that adding nuts into their diet will lead to weight gain. By adding a handful (30g) of nuts a day into our diets we reap many benefits including a lower risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease.”

“Mixed nuts are an especially good option because they combine the nutrients of each individual nut to create a total package full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health,” she adds. “With a handful of mixed nuts you get the combined goodness.”

With over 40% of deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease in New Zealand [3] and almost 1 in 3 adults considered obese [4], what better time than National Nut Day (October 20th) to highlight the benefit of mixed nuts and the small things we can do every day to improve the nation’s health.


[1] Predimed: A five year Mediterranean and mixed nuts diet study from Spain, updated July 2015. This long term study of 7500 people in 16 centres in Spain found eating a Mediterranean diet with a 30g handful of nuts a day improves Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Weight and Brain function. To date these PREDIMED study groups have published some 155 journal papers in peer reviewed journals.

[2] Nuts & the Big Fat Myth, The 2012 nut report, Nuts For Life Australia.

[3] New Zealand Nutrition Foundation ‘Nut’ Literature Review 2012 authored by New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. Contributors: Siew Ling Tey, BCApSc, MSc, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, Dr Rachel Brown, BSc, MSc, PhD, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand & Dr Alexandra Chisholm, Dip HSc, MCApSc, PhD, NZRD, Research Dietician, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

[4] Ministry of Health: Obesity data and stats http://www.health.govt.nz/nz-health-statistics/health-statistics-and-data-sets/obesity-data-and-stats.

Image credited to Nuts for Life Australia.