Are you going nuts?

During my travels through Northern Asia I have often been pleasantly surprised by the variety of high-quality local nuts offered in my rooms, especially the soft and succulent almonds floating in a small tray of lightly salted water, which were placed by my bedside during turndown service each evening at a well-known hotel in Lahore, Pakistan.

I have also been delighted to discover and taste the amazing varieties of local nuts displayed proudly on Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani breakfast buffets near the cereals and as essential ingredients for many of their exotic curry dishes and desserts — a delicious culinary tradition that appears contrary to the nut-free offers now found in most minibars and restaurants in the West, presumably as a result of legitimate allergy concerns. (I know of one major hotel brand that recently abolished nuts from its minibars due to a serious life-threatening incident in one of its hotels.)

While nut due diligence is an essential part of our remit and can save lives, it can also drive our guests nuts if they have a hankering for some salty or salt-less savory nibbles with their evening minibar refreshments, especially now that new research seems to prove that snacking on half a handful of nuts every day could reduce the chances of dying from diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently researched and proved the positive health benefits for people who ate around 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day, but it was bad news for lovers of peanut butter as scientists pointed out salt and trans-fatty acids contained in the spread could inhibit the protective effects of peanuts.

Epidemiologist Piet van den Brandt, who led the study at Maastricht University, said the findings were “remarkable” and added, “A higher intake was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk.”

Researchers said peanuts and various kinds of tree nuts contain various vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and compounds that could possibly contribute to lower death rates.

The reduction in mortality was strongest for respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes, followed by cancer and cardiovascular diseases in both men and women.

The research was carried out in conjunction with the Netherlands Cohort Study, which started in 1986, during which time the nut-eating habits of more than 120,000 Dutch men and women between the ages of 55 and 69 were recorded.

It was also discovered that regular nut-eaters tended to be younger, more highly educated, drink more alcohol (hopefully from our nut-free minibars), eat more fruit and vegetables, are more likely to take supplements and to be less hypertensive. Women who ate nuts were also often leaner, had never smoked and were less likely to report diabetes.

What makes you go nuts?