A nutty way to help your heart
The evidence is
piling up -- nuts are good for your heart. Although they are high in fat,
they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. Most nuts are a rich
source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), the same kind found in olive
oil, or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are also found in fish
Researchers studying 30,000 Seventh Day Adventists found that those who
are nuts at least five times a week reduced their risk of heart attack by 50
percent, compared with those who ate them less than once a week.
What kind of nuts do you like ? If you don't overdo it, you can enjoy
your favorite nuts without gaining weight and make your heart healthier to
Walnuts. One study of people living in a walnut-producing area of
France found that a high intake of walnuts was associated with an increase
in good HDL cholesterol Walnuts also increased a substance called apo A1,
which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Peanuts. Technically, peanuts aren't nuts -- they're legumes. Yet,
they may provide a unique way to get heart-healthy MUFAs. Peanuts contain
the same antioxidant found in grape skins, and this antioxidant is partly
responsible for red wine's ability to lower heart disease risk.
One study tested five different kinds of diets -- a typical American
diet, a low-fat diet, an olive-oil diet, a peanut/peanut butter diet, and a
peanut oil diet. The peanut diets contained small amounts of peanuts daily.
The study found that the olive oil and the peanut diets, which were low in
saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, all lowered bad LDL
cholesterol. The low-fat diet lowered bad LDL cholesterol, too, but it also
lowered good HDL cholesterol and raised triglyceride levels.
Almonds. Scientists recently tested the cholesterol-lowering
effects of adding almonds to the diet. Thirty men and women (ages 29 to 81)
enrolled in a study at the YMCA Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit in Palo Alto,
The men and women in the study stayed on a low-in-saturated-fats diet for
nine weeks. During that time, they are 100 grams of almonds a day ( 50 grams
a whole raw almonds, and 50 grams as ground almonds ). That's the equivalent
of almost four ounces per day of almonds. Each person kept a food diary, and
the scientists took measurements of blood-cholesterol levels throughout the
At the end of the nine weeks, the investigators reported that the average
total cholesterol level of 235 was reduced by about 20 points. The nearly
9-percent reduction in the total cholesterol level was due to a reduction in
the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood ( the "bad cholesterol" ).
Scientists explained that the almonds weren't fat-free. But, they contain
monounsaturated fats ( the good fat ).
The increase in monounsaturated fats ( almonds ) and the decrease in
saturated fats helped lower blood-cholesterol levels.