Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health

Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health

It is essential to eat nuts as part of a healthy diet which can be indeed good for the heart. Nuts do contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients and no doubt a great snack food. They are inexpensive, easy to store and easy to pack when one is on the hectic schedule.

Nuts are no doubt high in calories, so it is important to take them in limited portions. It is more sensible to have nuts then a healthy snack.

Can eating nuts help your heart?

Of course, although there has been a lot of research on whether nuts can benefit one’s heart health and also reduce the risks of dying early from heart disease and other causes, the evidence is still rather inconclusive. But, unless one is allergic to nuts, there is indeed no real danger in eating nuts, so one can certainly include nuts as part of one ’s heart-healthy diet.

Nuts may aid heart health by lowering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels. LDL does play a major role in the development of plaque that builds up on the blood vessels. Eating more nuts have also been linked to lower levels of inflammation that is linked to heart disease.

Eating nuts may also indeed reduce one’s risk of developing blood clots that can indeed cause a fatal heart attack. Nuts also do appear to improve the health of the lining of one’s arteries.

What do nuts contain to make them heart healthy?

They are packed with protein. Most do nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

Unsaturated fats.

It is not entirely clear why one believes that “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help one’s heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.

Fiber.

All nuts do contain fiber, which does help lower one’s cholesterol. Fiber does make one feel full, so one eats less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin E.

Vitamin E can help stop the development of plaques in one’ arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in one’s arteries can also lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

Plant sterols.

Some nuts do contain plant sterols, a substance that can also help lower one’s cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products such as margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.

L-arginine.

Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may rather aid the health of one’s artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

What amount of nuts is considered healthy?

As much as 80 percent of a nut is fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it does contain a lot of calories. One must have them in moderation. Ideally, one should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs, and dairy products.

Instead of consuming foods with unhealthy saturated fats, one can also try substituting a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut spread. One can also have about four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Select raw or dry-roasted nuts rather than those cooked in oil.

A serving consists of the small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairies as well as meat products will not do one’s heart any good.

Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat?

The type of nuts one chooses to eat probably does not matter much. Most nuts do appear to be generally healthy, though some may have more heart-healthy nutrients than others. For instance, walnuts do contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. Peanuts are also relatively healthy.

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