Nuts – are they really more effective at promoting healthy bones than milk?
Posted on January 22 2014
Bones perform several important functions within our bodies – they provide structure, protect our organs, anchor muscles and store calcium. Good bone health is not only crucial during childhood and adolescence, when bones are developing; it’s also essential in adulthood. In fact our bones gradually start to lose their density from our forties onwards and, according to the NHS, one in two British women, as well as one in five men over the age of fifty, will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis (a chronic condition that leaves our bones weak and brittle). For decades we’ve been advised to consume foods high in calcium (including milk and other dairy products) for optimum bone health, yet new research has revealed that magnesium rich foods, such as nuts (including organic almonds and organic cashew nuts), salmon and leafy greens, may prove even more effective at promoting healthy bones.
The science in support of nuts for bone health
Magnesium is a mineral that helps to regulate many biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. It is also necessary for the production of energy and the transport of calcium, and actively contributes to the structural development of bone. A recent study by Steven Abrams, professor of paediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, demonstrated that foods high in magnesium play a key role in building bones, not just in adults but also in children. Their results showed that the amounts of magnesium consumed and absorbed were key predictors of how much bone children had, whilst surprisingly, dietary calcium intake was ‘not significantly associated with total bone mineral content or density’. How likely we are to go on to develop serious bone diseases such as osteoporosis depends to some degree on how much bone mass we have by the time we are 30, and just how quickly we lose it later. In essence, the higher our peak bone mass, the less chance we have of developing osteoporosis or other bone complaints as we age.
Another piece of research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that those who eat diets rich in both potassium and magnesium witness higher bone density readings than those who don’t. Carol Henderson, PhD, assistant professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, believes that magnesium is therefore of benefit to those who suffer from arthritis, a common condition that effects approximately 10 million people in the UK.
Magnesium rich foods to go nuts for
Despite the fact that magnesium is readily available in many natural superfoods, including organic pumpkin seeds, bananas, raw chocolate and leafy greens, it is one of the most frequent mineral deficiencies in the UK. Indeed, it is estimated that some 7 out of 10 British women have a magnesium intake below the recommended daily levels, which is 270mg a day for women and 300mg for men. Nuts in particular, are an excellent source of magnesium and you can dramatically boost your magnesium intake and thus considerably improve your bone health by incorporating organic almonds and organic cashew nuts into your diet.
Organic almonds are a wholesome superfood snack brimming with beneficial nutrients, including vegetable protein, fibre, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B11 and E, potassium, calcium, sodium, selenium, iron, copper, zinc and phosphorus, as well as a generous amount of magnesium (just 100 grams of almonds contains an impressive 268 mg of magnesium). They can be enjoyed just as they are, combined with other nuts and dried fruits to create a tempting trail mix, or used to prepare almond milk, a dairy free alternative to cow’s milk. Organic almonds are also the perfect addition to raw chocolate, cakes, energy bars and other sweet treats.
Organic cashew nuts
Organic cashew nuts boast a deliciously creamy flavour and are packed with a wide selection of valuable nutrients, such as protein, amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus and, of course, a large quantity of magnesium (100 grams of cashew nuts contains a substantial 250 mg of magnesium). Just like organic almonds, organic cashew nuts can be consumed straight from the bag as a healthy snack between meals or used as an additional ingredient in all of your favourite rawfood snacks.