Nuts have a bad reputation because of the content of fats and calories. But they are a wonderful weapon in the fight against LDL (“bad” cholesterol).
Now you can eat nuts not only on holidays. They can help you lower cholesterol. Add nuts to your diet.
Nuts have a bad reputation. Many people still consider them salty, greasy and high-calorie – an inferior food, which is sold only in vending machines or in dirty, smoky bars.
But, according to nutritionists, some nuts deserve a place of honor in the kitchen of healthy food fans (of course, if you do not have allergies on them). Nuts contain many proteins, fiber, useful monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. In addition, many studies have shown that nuts reduce the cholesterol in the blood.
Their useful properties became known only in 2003, when the FDA submitted a “health claim” to peanuts and several types of hazelnuts – almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Also this status is worn by some products that are made with the addition of nuts. “Eating 30 grams of nuts a day can lower your risk of heart disease.”
So, it’s time to get your tongs for nuts or open a jar of nuts. With moderate use, nuts will benefit your health.
Walnuts are very useful because, unlike other nuts, they contain a high level of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in fatty fish such as tuna and salmon. We know that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the content of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood. Although experts do not know exactly how this happens. Omega-3 fatty acids can also slow the formation of plaques on the walls of arteries and prevent the formation of blood clots.
There is a large number of small studies that prove that walnuts reduce cholesterol.
One study in 2004, in which 58 people with diabetes participated, studied how eating a handful of walnuts a day could affect their health. The results of the study showed that, on average, people who consumed walnuts had increased levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) level fell by 10%. The results were published in the journal Diabetes Treatment.
Walnuts received a “health claim” in 2004, which confirms their properties to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Many studies show that almonds are also very healthy. Like other nuts, it contains a large number of proteins, fiber, useful monounsaturated fats, minerals and other nutrients. Also, it has a lot of vitamin E and antioxidants.
One scientist, Dr. David Jenkins, conducted many studies on the beneficial properties of almonds. One of his studies lasted 3 months, and it was attended by 27 people with high cholesterol. In people who ate a handful of almonds a day, the level of LDL decreased by 9.4%. The results were published in the journal Circulation.
Jenkins also studied the properties of almonds in combination with other products that lower cholesterol levels. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005, he and other researchers compared drugs and products that lower cholesterol levels. The study involved 34 adults with elevated cholesterol. Among the selected products were almonds, proteins, legumes, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. The result was amazing. Products have almost the same properties for lowering cholesterol, as well as drugs.
“Basically, nuts are useful products,” Farrell said in an interview. “They contain many vitamins, minerals and useful monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol levels.”
In addition to walnuts and almonds, the FDA awarded a “health claim” to peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, some pine nuts and pistachios.
Many studies confirm their usefulness. For example, one small study compared a standard diet to reduce cholesterol with a diet in which one-fifth of the calories were replaced by pecans. Compared with the standard diet, the diet of pecan nuts reduces the level of LDL by 10.4% and raises the level of triglycerides by 11.1%. It also increases cholesterol by 5.6%. The results were published in the Journal of Dietetics.
Not all nuts bring the same benefit. The FDA has not awarded a “health claim” to Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, cashews and some other types of pine nuts. This is due to the fact that these nuts contain a large amount of fat. But they can also be useful if taken in small quantities.
For example, in one small study involving 17 men with high cholesterol, participants ate about 40-100 g of macadamia nuts a day. After 4 weeks their total cholesterol level fell by approximately 3%, and the level of bad cholesterol – by 7%. The results were published in the Journal of Dietetics in 2003.
How to make nuts a part of your diet
Nuts are easy to make a part of your diet. Some nuts are traditionally sold in shell. But you can buy them already cleaned at the grocery store. You can eat them directly. Just eat a handful of nuts as a snack or add them to the “marching mix”. In any case, do not eat too many nuts.
You can also use nuts as condiments. Add them to salad, porridge, yogurt, fruit, vegetables or main dishes, members of the American Dietetic Association Kicha Harris and Ruth Frenchman offer. Add nuts to pasta and hot soups.
However, do not be tempted by products that go beyond just nuts. “When you buy nuts, take raw and unsalted nuts,” Farrell says. Nuts covered with honey, chocolate or caramel contain many calories.
You can get health benefits by eating just a handful of nuts a day. According to experts, 30-45 grams per day is sufficient. High protein and fiber content make them very nutritious. So do not eat too many nuts.
Although nuts have many benefits, they contain many calories. The appearance of excess weight can neutralize all the positive properties of nuts.
The best way to add nuts to your diet is to consume them instead of less useful fats – such as saturated fats in meat. So you will get all the benefits from nuts without gaining extra pounds.