Nuts can pack a powerful nutritional punch—they’re chock full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial oils. And with such a wide variety to choose from, it’s easy to incorporate nuts in all sorts of delicious recipes, or to simply eat them whole for a healthy on-the-go snack.
Eaten as a part of a heart-healthy diet, nuts can help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream. Eating nuts may also help to reduce formation of blood clots and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack. While walnuts, almonds and pistachios are favored by many, almost every variety of nut contains substances that are good for the heart.
The heart-healthy substances in nuts include fiber, plant sterols and unsaturated fats that help lower bad cholesterol; omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy heart rhythm and lower risk of heart attack; vitamin E, which helps reduce the buildup of dangerous plaque in arteries; and l-arginine, which promotes good blood flow and artery wall flexibility and may reduce risk for blood clots.
The benefits of nuts aren’t limited to heart health, however. The fiber in nuts aids digestion and helps promote regular bowel movements. Fiber has also been linked to a reduced risk of diabetes. And because nuts are packed with protein, they also make a good source of energy.
It is important to note that up to 80 percent of any nut is made up of fat, and while that fat may be of the healthy variety, nuts are still very calorie-rich and should be eaten in small portions. Per the American Heart Association’s guidelines, a single 1.5-ounce serving of nuts (or two tablespoons of nut butter) is all you really need as part of your overall healthy diet.
Nuts make a good substitute for the saturated fats found in meats, dairy and eggs. Remember to only select raw, unsalted or dry-roasted nuts—the addition of salt, oil or sugary flavorings may cancel out the nuts' healthy benefits. Also keep in mind that nut oils are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, but do not contain the same amount of fiber found in whole nuts.
Incorporating nuts into your daily diet is easy. While they make a convenient between-meal snack, you can also add them to salads and stir-frys, cook with nut oils and add a spoonful of nut butter to a smoothie. You can find all types of nuts—both pre-packaged and in bulk —at your local supermarket, health food store or farmers market.
Posted: 6/11/2015 by
Filed under: Fat, Fats, Health, Healthy, Heart, Nutrition, Nuts, Snacks