And why men should have them, too!
I really love nuts - I eat almonds quite often as they are the least fatty nut and don't contain that any many kj or cal (about 25 kj or 6.25 cal per nut). However, women have been advised for decades that eating any kind of nuts, so that's almonds, peanuts, macadamias and the like, could increase rates of allergies in their kids and therefore ... stay away!
How things change! Not even four years ago, in 2009, the Food Standards Agency (UK agency that researches food and food health-related issues) stated they no longer advised mums to stay away from nuts, saying that there was "no clear evidence that eating or not eating peanuts during pregnancy, breastfeeding or early childhood has any effect on the chances of a child developing a peanut allergy."
And now, in 2013, researchers from Denmark believe that the intake of nuts whilst pregnant is good for babies! I'm talking about a nigh eight-year comprehensive study, too - it looked at over 60,000 mothers and their offspring from conception (well, obviously not from the EXACT moment) until they turned seven years old.
So in a nutshell (hehe), eating any kind of nuts during pregnancy reduced the chances of the child being diagnosed with asthma by 1/4 at one and a half years, and 1/3 at seven years.Nut eating during pregnancy reduced the chance of a child being classes as asthmatic at 18 months by about a quarter, and a third at seven years.
I found out this information by reading the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, where Ekaterina Maslova and her colleagues at the Copenhagen-based Statens Serum Institute published the findings. “We found that maternal peanut and tree nut intake one or more times per week during pregnancy decreases the risk of allergic disease in childhood," she writes. "These results do not support avoidance of nuts during pregnancy.”
Colin Michie, or Mr Michie, or Col (as I like to call him) over at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - who is the chairperson there - said that he hoped women of all shapes and sizes would pay close attention to this research. Even though this research is fairly comprehensive, it is quite new information; however, other studies are currently being done by other institutes and think-tanks which also demonstrate these findings. The bottom line is - nuts are good for pregnant women and their babies. Nuts are especially benefitial for a baby's developing immune system.
The studies done over 30 years ago in 1980-something are now viewed as weak by the scientific and medical community. Sometimes the precautionary principle is a good thing, but in this case, politicians and health experts who looked at this research probably have done more harm than good in the last 30 years to womens' health.
Rather than staying away from nuts, having some exposure to them can allow your body to adapt to it and recognise and become familiar with what it is. Kind of like the thinking behind not having 'too' clean a house - if your house is really clean, there is no opportunity for you child to come into contact with allergens and dust, which means when they do finally get exposed they could become very sick from something that would otherwise give another child the common cold, for instance.
Of course, if anybody (including pregant women) has a family history of bad nut allergies, stay away from them to be safe, and always consult a doctor.
Nuts are really good for men to eat, too. They are rich in omega 3s, antioxidants, protein and fibre. Because of the complex carbohydrates that they contain, they make you feel fuller for longer and thus can aid your dieting goals, if you have them.
If you know any pregnant women, or are a pregnant woman yourself, please feel free to go out there and chomp on some nuts - without fear for your baby's health. You're actually doing your body (and theirs) some good. I'm nut even joking. *Bada boom*