Eating nuts as part of a fit diet could be fine for your heart. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients and are a good snack food. They are inexpensive, easy to store and easy to take with you to school or work.
The type of nut you eat is not that significant, although some nuts have more heart healthy nutrients and fats than do others. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, almost every type of nuts have a lot of nutrition filled into a tiny package. If you are suffering from a heart disease, eating nuts instead of a less healthy snack could help you more easily follow a heart healthy diet plan.
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 main causes of heart disease.
Eating nuts decreases your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a serious heart attack. Nuts also improve the health of the lining of your arteries.
Most nuts contain at least some of these heart healthy substances, although it varies by nut:
- Unsaturated fats. It is not completely clear why, but it is thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a healthy form of fatty acids that appear to help your heart by preventing dangerous heart rhythms that could 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 in lowering 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 in stopping the development of plaques in your arteries, which can make them thin. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to mild to sharp chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help in lowering your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like orange juice and margarine for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
- L-arginine. Nuts are also a good source of l-arginine, a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clotting that can block blood flow
Nuts contain a lot of fat; almost 80 percent of a nut is fat though most of this fat is healthy fat, it is still a lot of calories. That is why you should eat nuts in moderation. Ideally, you should use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in eggs, meats and dairy products.
In preference to eating unhealthy saturated fats, try replacing a handful of nuts. Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts, some pine nuts, and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart ailment. But again, do this as part of a heart healthy diet. Only eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many meat and dairy products would not do your heart any good.
Most nuts appear to be by and large healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts are one of the best studied nuts, and it has been shown they contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts are other nuts that appear to be quite heart healthy. Even peanuts, which are technically not a kind of nut, but a legume, like beans — seem to be quite healthy. Coconut, which technically is a fruit, may be considered by some to be a nut, but it does not seem to have heart healthy benefits. Both coconut meat and oil do not have the benefits of the mono and polyunsaturated fats.
Bear in mind; you could finish up canceling out the heart healthy benefits of nuts if they are covered with sugar, chocolate or salt.