You would normally steer clear of nuts because you think they are high in cholesterol and bad for your heart. This is not true as nuts are cholesterol-free, and are rich in nutrients that include protein, fibre and vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin E, B6 and minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium.
What is true is that it is relatively high in fat but the fats in the nuts are healthy fats which actually decrease LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Nuts may help reduce the risk of heart disease
Numerous studies have proven the important role of nuts in reducing the risk of heart diseases:
- People who ate nuts even once a week encountered fewer heart problems than those who didn’t.
- Eating 1.5 oz (about 40g or 1 handful) per day of most nuts as part of a healthy diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Nuts and their other health benefits
Nuts are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. New studies show the importance of these compounds in the prevention of chronic diseases and protection against oxidation and damage to body cells.
Walnuts, for example, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce the risk of heart disease as well as help protect against arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Good to know:
Nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts and pecan are a rich source of vitamin E, which plays a protective role against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Can I eat nuts when on a diet?
Although high in fat, it is recommended to include nuts in your diet but in reasonable portions as long as you remain within your caloric needs. And since they make you feel full, you can have a small snack of nuts between meals to sustain you to the next main meal.
Go nuts with nuts
- Nuts are a good source of protein so add them to your salads and pasta
- Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of a bowl of soup, vegetable dish or your favorite stew
- When you buy nuts be sure to look for clean shells without cracks
- Whole or raw shelled nuts should appear fairly uniform in color and size.
Given the load of benefits of nuts, it is recommended you eat them in moderation. Experts recommend one to two ounces (30-60 grams) of unsalted nuts per day, which is equivalent to approximately one handful.