Following my last post about the benefits of fruit for a heart-healthy diet, here is why I think nuts are good for you.
Almonds and Almond Butter
Almonds are my favorite snack. They’re loaded with fiber and healthy monounsaturated oils. An analysis on a Meta research showed that people with high cholesterol eating almonds regularly showed a 5.3 to 7.2 decrease in total cholesterol levels and, to make it even more interesting, lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol from 6.8 to 10 percent.
Cashew nuts basically have the same benefits as almonds and other nuts; they provide you with loads of fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats.
Hazelnuts provide the same benefits as other nuts, plus another interesting ingredient: beta-sitosterol, which is found in pecans as well. Beta-sisterol is a plant sterol that is credited with two important properties: it lowers cholesterol and it reduces the symptoms of prostatic hyperplasia some men experience as they age. Another little known advantage is that they contain a decent amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Now, if that does not make you rush to the store and try poor unloved hazelnuts, I don’t know what will.
Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Peanuts (which, by the way, is not really a nut but a legume) are still a healthy addition to your cholesterol-lowering diet. They contain a good amount of fiber and has a special polyphenol called p-coumaric acid. P-coumaric acid is a powerful antioxidant.
Wait, there’s more good news: in another study conducted at Penn State University, it was found that people making a point of eating peanuts or peanut butter daily experienced a 13 percent decrease in their triglycerides levels. It also contains about 50 percent high-oleic acid monounsaturated fat, which, just like olive oil, has been found to be beneficial in the Lyon’s Mediterranean Diet Study.
Like all nuts, they contain a good amount of fiber (3 g per serving of about 20 pecan halves) and monounsaturated oil. And like hazelnuts, they contain beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol known to lower cholesterol.
In the good-for-you department, pistachios have been found to improve total and HDL (good) cholesterol levels and decrease oxidative stress. They also helped improve the total cholesterol to HDL ratio by 21 percent. This ration is considered to be an important ratio to watch for your cardiovascular health.
Have you ever noticed how, when shelled and separated in two halves, they look like a miniature brain? Well, there is a centuries-old theory called the Doctrine of Signatures that posit that some foods look like the organ they’re supposed to help. So, there you have it, walnuts are good for your brain… and your heart as well. How so? They are the nuts containing the largest amount of cholesterol-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Amongst many other benefits, omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower triglycerides and reduce plaque formation.
Continue reading about Healthy Seeds and Spices