5 Nuts That Love Your Heart
Nuts have received a bad rap over the past few years, being touted as “high in fat,” as well as calories. In reality, however, nuts eaten in moderation can have a variety of health benefits – including improving your heart health significantly.
Harvard Reports on Nut Health
A few recent studies reported by Harvard have indicated that if you regularly consume nuts, you could reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease. These larger studies show consistent results – consuming nuts daily (or at least a few times per week) can reduce heart disease and heart attack risk by 30 to 50%. These recent studies have prompted the FDA to advise that a diet including one ounce of nuts per day can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Why Nuts Work
So how exactly do nuts help you achieve better heart health? For one, they are a great source of unsaturated (good) fats, which can help reduce bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help calm erratic heart rhythms and reduce the risk of blood clots. Nuts are also a source of the essential amino acid arginine, which helps your body produce nitric oxide. In turn, nitric oxide relaxes your blood vessels to help reduce blood pressure. But that’s not all – nuts are also a great source of vitamin E, folic acid, fiber and potassium.
What About Calories?
Adding nuts to your diet won’t do much to help your health if you’re not using it to replace a less healthy food. At an average 185 calories per ounce, those calories can add up quickly. Use nuts as a snack to replace something less healthy and you’ll be just fine.
5 Nuts That Love Your Heart
The FDA has given these nuts the seal of approval for heart boosting benefits. Opt for 1.5 oz. serving per day of one of these nuts (or a combination adding up to 1.5 oz.) and also get these other health benefits:
- Pecans: High in antioxidants, 3 grams of fiber per ounce
- Pistachios: Lower-calorie, source of vitamin B6, copper, and manganese
- Hazelnuts: Good source of magnesium, thiamin, and vitamin E, 3 grams of fiber
- Almonds: Six grams of protein per ounce
- Walnuts: Good source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) and vitamin E
What about peanuts? If peanuts are your only source of nuts, that’s fine, but you’d be better off switching to a healthier nut. Studies have shown that while peanuts offer many of the same health benefits, they can contribute to abdominal weight gain, which is not a problem that has been associated with studies of the benefits of other kinds of nuts. So grab some nuts! Sprinkle on cereal and salads, throw in a smoothie or combine with dried fruit for a healthy snack. Your heart will thank you for it.