Nuts and Your Heart
Ever wondered those small crunchy nuts are packed with so much nutrition that they can drastically improve your heart health? Yes, nuts and your heart have an intimate connection. While a few varieties are meant for the good of your heart, others being eaten in large portion can cause harm.
What are the Heart-Friendly Components of Nuts?
Doctors recommend consumption of omega-3 fatty acids for prevention of heart attacks and keep a check on heart rate. Nuts are the best natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies have shown that Vitamin E inhibits oxidation of Low Density Cholesterol (LDL), which escalates atherosclerosis and prevents formation of plaques inside arteries. It also stops blood clotting which is one of the reasons behind venous thromboembolism and heart attacks.
Nuts are storehouse of unsaturated fats, which are definitely heart friendly. To explain in a better way, they contain monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats which are known as the “good fats” and are healthy for your heart.
L-arginine is a wonderful ingredient that improves blood circulation in the arteries and prevents clogging. Thus, nuts are extremely beneficial for those suffering from coronary heart disease, chest pain and angina.
Nuts contain fibre and fibres lower obesity and risks of heart diseases. It also reduces LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Best Nuts for the Heart
Walnuts: Apart from omega-3 fats, walnuts contain high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Studies have shown that ALA might prevent heart arrhythmias. Due to its high antioxidant content, walnut prevents oxidation and production of free radicals in the arteries and lowers LDL cholesterol.
Peanuts: A handful of peanuts along with fruits and vegetables are extremely helpful in keeping your cholesterol levels at the bay. Being rich in unsaturated fatty acids, it also helps in weight management and reduction of blood pressure. It’s for this reason doctors advice supplementing dairy butter with peanut butter.
Brazil nuts: Being a natural source of selenium, minerals and anti-oxidants, they are known to lower your cholesterol levels and protect you from a wide array of heart diseases. You can pop 2 nuts a day.
Pistachios: It’s rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E. Roman Pawlak, professor of nutrition science at East Carolina University informs that, “Pistachios decrease bad cholesterol and triglycerides and increase good cholesterol, which lowers heart disease risk. They also improve blood vessel elasticity, which helps prevent high blood pressure."
Almonds: People who have survived a heart attack or have high blood pressure need to maintain their body fats. This is the reason why almonds are suggested to them. They are rich in vitamin E, antioxidants and healthy fatty acids which are undoubtedly smart for heart.
Cashews: The reasons why cashews are considered to be heart-healthy are, they contain vitamin E, fibres, L Arginine, and monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid). All these ingredients improve functioning of heart.
Others: Macadamia nuts, pecans and hazel nuts are also healthy. However, their calorie content is higher than those mentioned above. Although not harmful, they can be eaten one a day or two in two days.
Remember that nuts are rich in fats, although most of the fat is healthy. Therefore, you can use it as a healthy fat supplement for high calorie foods like red meat, dairy products, egg yolk and potatoes, etc. Eat in moderation, like 3-4 a day instead of chewing handfuls every day. Avoid fried, packaged and salted nuts.
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 03, 2015