What do nuts do for your heart?
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Nuts can lower your LDL and triglyceride levels, which are factors that cause plaque development in your arteries that can lead to coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Endothelium (lining of your arteries): Eating nuts can help maintain the health of your endothelium by improving its elasticity.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is believed to play a key role in the development of many health disorders including heart diseases. Nuts help reduce levels of inflammation in the body.
- Blood clots: Nuts reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which can obstruct the arteries leading to your heart. This increases your chance of heart attack.
Why are nuts good for your heart?
Nuts are packed with a variety of nutrients and most of them are heart-healthy:
- Unsaturated fats: Unlike the saturated fats in meat and dairy, nuts are rich in unsaturated fats (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), which are healthy types of fats that do not increase your cholesterol levels but instead keep them in check.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Besides fish, nuts also provide you with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fatty acids. These fatty acids help prevent irregular heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
- Fiber: All nuts contain fiber, which makes you feel full. This can help you eat less and thus prevent weight gain. Including fiber in your diet is also a preventive measure against diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E may help stop the formation of plaques in your arteries.
- L-arginine: Nuts are also a source of L-arginine, an amino acid that maintains the flexibility of your arteries and helps prevent the formation of blood clots.
How many nuts should you eat a day?
While nuts are full of healthy fats, they can also be high in calories. So the key to including nuts in your daily diet without gaining weight is to limit your portion sizes. Eating them in moderation may mean having only a handful a day and no more.
To derive the heart-healthy benefits of nuts, the American Heart Association recommends having about 4 servings a week. One serving equals a small handful (1.5 ounces) of whole nuts.
When buying nuts, choose raw or dry-roasted nuts over the ones that are cooked in oil. Also, make sure to get unsalted nuts, since too much salt can damage your heart health by increasing your risk of developing hypertension.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing. How to Eat Nuts the Healthy Way. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-eat-nuts-the-healthy-way