Healthy nuts to eat for your heart
Are nuts part of your healthy diet? They should be.
Are nuts part of your heart healthy eating diet? They should be. Despite what you may have heard, nuts are a healthy food. More and more studies show that people who eat nuts have lower risks of several chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Eating nuts is linked to better insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, nuts can also reduce your risk of dying.
Besides their health benefits, nuts make a great, tasty snack. They’re nutritious, they’re easy to take with you on the go, they don’t need to be refrigerated, and they’re inexpensive.
Let’s find out more about why it’s healthy to go nuts.
Nuts for heart health
Your risk for heart disease changes based on what you eat and how you live. According to one study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost half of the cardiometabolic deaths are associated with diet. The factor that contributed to most dietary-related deaths was too much sodium. The second biggest factor was not eating enough nuts and seeds.
Nuts are an essential part of your heart-healthy diet. In 2019, a review of 19 separate studies was published in the journal Nutrition reviews. It found that people who ate more nuts have lower risks of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and stroke. Plus, if you already have one of these conditions, eating nuts can help reduce your risk of dying from it. Many of these benefits were maximized for people who ate at least five servings per week.
Eating nuts is also linked with lower total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Nuts also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Eating them is linked to lower levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, and better function of the inner lining of your blood vessels. All of these are good for your heart health and your overall health.
Nuts for weight
Nuts are an excellent addition to your diet—even if you’re trying not to gain weight. While they are higher in good fats and calories than most fruits and vegetables, eating nuts in moderation is not linked with gaining weight. Nuts seem to reduce the feeling of hunger.
In fact, a 2019 study published in the journal Advances in nutrition found that people who ate nuts had a significantly lower risk of belly fat (abdominal obesity).
These properties of nuts could be because of the protein or fiber that’s in them. It can also be from their heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Plain nuts are also low in sugar. Whatever your weight, nuts are a healthy food to eat. Many times, just a small amount of nuts is enough to decrease your hunger.
What makes nuts so healthy?
Nuts have a lot of things going for them. They’re a source of heart-healthy plant-based protein and fiber to help fill you up. Nuts also contain vitamins (e.g. walnuts have vitamin E) and minerals (e.g., almonds have calcium, Brazil nuts have selenium).
One thing to look out for are nuts that are coated with sugar, salt, or candy. Nuts are also sometimes included in less-healthy foods like some cereals or granola bars that are high in sugar. Try to avoid these as the added sugars and salts can contribute to health concerns.
Healthy nuts to eat
What nuts are healthy to eat? Try to choose nuts that are high in omega 3s: walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts. Even peanuts have proven health benefits.
Whichever nuts you choose, opt for unsweetened, unsalted ones wherever possible. You can enjoy them raw or roasted. Unshelled nuts are a very fast and easy snack when you’re hungry and need to eat something quickly. Nuts are a great substitute for higher-calorie, less nutritious ready-to-go snacks like potato chips or candy bars.
Nuts can be eaten by themselves or different kinds can be mixed together into a healthy trail mix. You can even use them as a crunchy topping on oatmeal, yogurt, or salads.
Nut butters count, too—especially the unsweetened ones with no trans fats (check your labels!). You can enjoy nut butters on sandwiches, in smoothies, or even by dipping into them with a sliced apple or pear.
The value of eating nuts
People who eat nuts have lower risks of many chronic diseases. Nuts are linked with healthy hearts and healthy weights.
Overall, nuts are great as a snack on their own or paired with other foods like oatmeal, yogurt, salads, and fruit. Be sure to choose unsweetened, unsalted nuts for the most health benefit.
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