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Nuts as Natural Cholesterol Busters

Nuts can generally lower your chances of suffering from cardiovascular maladies if eaten regularly throughout the week.

In the endless battle against heart disease and bad cholesterol, one type of food is standing out from the crowd of ‘would be’ super foods in terms of performance: nuts.

Several studies in the US and around the world have already attributed the power of nuts to lower LDL (or ‚Äúbad cholesterol‚ÄĚ) and generally improve a person’s cardiovascular profile.¬† ¬†According to a more recent investigation of the health benefits of nuts, headed by Loma Linda University researchers, consuming more than two ounces of nuts everyday for a few weeks produced long-lasting, positive effects.

The study involved more than five hundred respondents (males and females), none of which were taking any medications to control their blood pressure or cholesterol levels.¬† After approximately two months of natural ‚Äúnut therapy‚ÄĚ, the findings are as follows:

  • 5.1% total cholesterol reduction
  • 7.4% LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol reduction
  • 10.2% reduction of triglycerides
  • 8.3% improvement of bad cholesterol & good cholesterol ratios

Who will benefit the most from eating nuts?  The researchers have pointed out three key groups that will benefit the most, based on the respondent profiles and the results of the actual study:

  • Individuals who are generally slim or of normal weight
  • Individuals who already have a high level of ‚Äúbad cholesterol‚ÄĚ or LDL cholesterol
  • Individuals whose main diet is composed mainly of high-fat foods

As can be seen from the three profiles, nearly everyone can benefit from consuming nuts on a regular basis.  And there are even more reasons to love this health food: according to Joan Sabate MD, one of the key researchers of the Loma Linda University study, nuts are packed with essential nutrients such as protein and fiber, which makes it an ideal snack.

If you like the idea of lowering your LDL cholesterol, you will not be stuck with oatmeal-based snacks anymore ‚Äď you have a potent, alternative choice in the form of nuts.¬† All nuts will provide the same heart-healthy benefits.¬† So whether you love pecans or macadamias, your heart is still getting much needed help from the natural compounds found in nuts.

More reasons to love nuts

Need more reasons to start munching on nuts more often? Here they are:
1. Eating at least 1 ounce of nuts everyday can reduce your risk for developing coronary heart problems by a whopping forty percent.  That is almost half the total risk for this devastating group of cardiovascular diseases.

2. As early as 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration has already recognized the efficacy at which walnuts can lower blood cholesterol levels.  According to studies, walnuts contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids.  In addition to the heart-healthy fatty acid, walnuts also come with a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin E, which can help reduce cell damage due to free radicals.

Fiber on the other hand, encourages a healthy digestive process by helping ‘sweep away’ the solid waste.¬† Getting enough fiber everyday is becoming a problem in modern society because many modern diets are high in fat and animal protein but low in roughage.¬† Eating walnuts and other nuts packed with fiber can help reduce the problems associated with low-fiber diets.

3. What about peanuts? ¬†Peanuts are not really nuts; they come from plants that are part of the legume family.¬† Fortunately, peanuts have the same chemical compounds as most nuts.¬† So when you are eating peanuts (a type of legume) you are still getting the advantages of eating ‘true nuts’.

4. According to studies on pistachios, the nut can slightly reduce the LDL cholesterol in the body and raise the good cholesterol level.¬† I’m actually snacking on some pistachios right now as I’m writing this article!

5. Plan to get pregnant anytime soon?  If you do, eating nuts gives you access to a healthy source of folic acid. Folic acid is an important compound that prevents fetuses from developing physical and neurological abnormalities.

6. According to a study performed by researchers from the Physician’s Health Study, people who ate nuts at least twice a week are at less risk of dying from heart attacks than those who did not.

7. Peanuts contain the heart-healthy compound resveratrol which has been linked to the decreased incidence of heart disease in French society.  Though you get less resveratrol with peanuts, consuming peanuts regularly can supply you enough of the compound to ward off heart problems.

Tips for healthy munching

While nuts offer a lot of health benefits, it still has calories and some amount of fat.  Here are some tips for healthy munching:

1. Avoid eating salted nuts; the sodium used for flavor enhancement can raise your blood pressure.¬† Go for plain or unsalted commercial nuts.¬† Salt doesn’t really add much depth to a nut’s natural flavor.

2. If you are eating more nuts, you have to reduce your intake of other snack foods like potato chips and sodas.  (As an added note, if you like soda with your snacks, try substituting it with water or natural fruit juices).

3. If you like fresh greens, chop some nuts and add them to your salads. The texture and crunchiness of nuts will greatly improve your salad.  Also, you are getting even more fiber from eating fresh greens!

Sources:
aolhealth.com
heartdisease.about.com
cholesterol.about.com
cholesterol.about.com
www.vegan.org.nz
www.healthcastle.com

Related Posts

  1. Love Pistachios? Your Heart Does, Too!
  2. Your Cholesterol Levels Can Tell Doctors a Lot About You
  3. Your Cholesterol & Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
  4. It Takes Two
  5. Low HDL Cholesterol Levels: A Risk Factor for Dementia, Study Shows
  


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