Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

My cardiologist suggested I eat more nuts. Can you explain?

I am happy when I hear about a physician interested in talking about nutrition with patients and hope more will do so. The foods we eat definitely impact our well-being.

Nuts are a great choice for people who have heart issues because they are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, unsaturated fat, vitamin E and even helpful antioxidants. They have been shown to help lower our cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

When we talk about the benefits of nuts, we must remember that they are part of a heart healthy diet not a cure for heart disease. You must continue to choose foods that are low in saturated fat, reduce overall fat even of good fats, increase fiber, lower sodium and eat appropriate calories to manage weight. Nuts can be good substitutes for the high fat, salty snacks you may currently be choosing, use as additions to your current recipes and even as a high saturated fat protein substitute.

There are a variety of healthy nuts, each one packs a nutrition punch! Some you may want to include are almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and even peanuts (which are really a legume!).

The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Be sure to pick those that are dry roasted instead of processed with added oil. Nuts have calories as well as nutrition, so be sure to eat in smaller quantities such as 1.5 ounces or a small handful. You can also try nut butters.

Have fun going nutty!

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