If you're struggling with tummy fat, trying to stay healthy, or just feel happier, you may want to eat a handful of raw walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts daily. Nuts are packed with healthy nutrients including unsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols.

To check the benefits of nut consumption, researchers from the University of Barcelona put 22 people with metabolic syndrome (MetS) on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients who avoided nuts.

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that causes excessive abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure - increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The scientists analyzed the compounds excreted in patients' urine and found evidence of several healthful changes, including a boost in patients' levels of serotonin metabolites. The hormone serotonin helps transmit nerve signals, makes people feel happier, decreases feelings of hunger, and improves heart health. Just one ounce per day of mixed nuts, which included raw, unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, was enough to produce such effects.

The report, which has been published in the Journal of Proteome Research, says that people with metabolic syndrome (MetS) will particularly benefit. But don't eat too many, they are very high in calories and fat which can contribute to obesity!

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