Nuts are heart-healthy snack that are tasty, convenient and can be enjoyed on all kinds of diets. They contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients that benefit the body. They are also not expensive, easy to store and easy to pack.
Some common nuts are; Peanuts, Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Hazelnut, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Pine nuts, Pistachios, Walnuts and groundnut.
Most nuts contain protein and are packed with heart-healthy substances such as:
- Unsaturated fats-monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in nuts can reduce cholesterol levels and lessen your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Omega-3 fatty acids- Omega-3 fatty acids found in some nuts are a healthy form of fatty acids that helps you to prevent dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. They are great alternatives for oily fish.
- Fiber- Nuts contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and play a role in preventing type 2-diabetes.
- Vitamin E-Vitamin E in most nuts may protect you against diabetes and help stop the development of plaques in the arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in the arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Plant sterols- Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
- L-arginine- Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, a substance that may help improve the health of the artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.
- Flavonoids- Are heart protecting compounds with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory health benefits
Unless you’re allergic to nuts, there’s no real danger in eating nuts, you should include nuts as part of your heart-healthy diet.
Compiled by: Victoria Haruna, BSc. (Biochem), MPH (Health Promotion and education)
- Ros E, Mataix J (2006), Fatty acid composition of nuts–implications for cardiovascular health. Br J Nutr; 96 Suppl 2():S29-35.
- Emilio Ros (2010); Health Benefits of Nuts Consumption. PMC3257681, doi: 3390/nu2070652
- Mayo Clinic (2016); Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health.