March 1, 2012  |  Category: Heart health

Go nuts!

Eating nuts can be good for your heart when part of a healthy diet.  Almost every nut has a lot of nutrition packed into a small shell.  When part of a health diet nuts can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol; high LDL is one of the primary causes of heart disease.  Eating nuts improves the lining of your arteries and can reduce your risk of developing blood clots that can cause heart attacks.

According to the Mayo Clinicmost nuts contain at least some of these heart healthy substances:

  • Unsaturated fats. It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
  • Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like 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 help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Make sure you are eating nuts as part of a healthy diet; even with all their health benefits nuts are still high in fat.  Even with most of the fat being healthy fat is still a lot of calories.  Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats does your heart no good.

It has been suggest that eating a variety of nuts is the best way  to get all the health benefits they offer, some nuts include Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Hazelnut, Pecans, Pistachios, and Walnuts.