Going Nuts for Heart Health!

Pardon the pun, but one could say that “going nuts” is a very sane way to lower your cholesterol and bolster your heart health! Study after study suggests that eating nuts is just plan good for us. While they do pack a lot of good nutrition into a small package, most researchers agree that nuts also go a long way in supporting a healthy heart.

Now, we should go ahead and note that when we say, “nuts,” we mean the raw, unsalted, unprocessed, really-good-for-you kind. What about the overly processed, honey-roasted, and chocolate-covered kind? NOT those nuts!

So far as general health goes, the best nuts are cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; while the Mayo Clinic lists almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts as the best for our hearts. Here’s a closer look at what’s inside:

Almonds – Though they are a great source of protein, almonds are also high in calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin E, magnesium and antioxidants. Almonds can also lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol with just a handful a day.

Cashews – Besides tasting great, cashews pack a powerful punch of nutrients. These tree nuts contain high levels of zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Brazil Nuts – This South American nut is chock  full of a “super” antioxidant called selenium. This nutrient has been shown in studies to help protect our bodies from heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Walnuts – Omega-3 fatty acids (the same kinds found in tuna and salmon) go a long way in helping lower triglycerides, a kind of fat we build up in our bloodstreams. Not only do they bust up fat, the Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts also help to keep our hearts from falling into unhealthy rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.

Pound for pound, nuts are easily one of the best non-meat proteins in the world. Besides the heart benefits and their cholesterol-busting abilities, nuts are also rich in fiber. However, it’s important not to go “nuts” with the amount you’re taking in. Nuts are fairly high in calories, so think of a handful as a good serving size. In fact, toast and almond butter could be a great substitute for a ham sandwich!

Not only are nuts really good for us, they’re also easy to find, easy to store, and easy to pack away in your lunch bag. Make a decision to make nuts a part of your dietary plan.

And don’t be shy! They do, after all, grow on trees.