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Nuts and your heart:
Eating nuts for
heart health
Eating nuts as part of a
healthy diet can be good for
your heart. Nuts, which contain
unsaturated fatty acids and other
nutrients, are a great snack food, too.
They’re inexpensive, easy to store and
easy to take with you to work or school.
The type of nut you eat isn’t that important,
although some nuts have more heart-healthy
nutrients and fats than do others. Walnuts,
almonds, hazelnuts — you name it — almost
every type of nut has a lot of nutrition packed
into a tiny package. If you have heart disease,
eating nuts instead of a less healthy snack can
help you more easily follow a heart-healthy
diet.
Can eating nuts
help your heart?
People who eat nuts as part of a heart-
healthy diet can lower the LDL, low-density
lipoprotein or “bad,” cholesterol level in their
blood. High LDL is one of the primary causes
of heart disease.
Eating nuts reduces your risk of developing
blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack.
Nuts also improve the health of the lining
of your arteries. The evidence for the heart-
healthy benefits
of nuts isn’t rock
solid — the Food and
Drug Administration only
allows food companies to say
evidence “suggests but does not
prove” that eating nuts reduces heart
disease risk.
What’s in nuts that’s thought to be heart
healthy?
Although it varies by nut, most 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
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58
July/Aug 2013