Go nuts for a healthy heart!

Eating nuts reduces a person’s chances of dying from heart disease or cancer

The great taste and texture of nuts make them a popular snack, but given their high calorie and fat contents, many people stillshy away from eating nuts regularly.

However, new research has now shown that consuming nuts significantly reduces a person’s chances of dying from heart disease or cancer. The more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over a period of 30 years, scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, found.

A daily handful of nuts cut death rates from any cause by a fifth, reduced those related to heart disease by nearly 30% and lowered the chances of dying from cancer by 11%. Regular nut eaters also enjoyed the added benefit of being slimmer than those who avoided nuts.

Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are one of this season’s best buys. A small portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals.

All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits. Although it varies by nut, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

Unsaturated fats:It is understood that the ‘good’ fats in nuts – both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – lower bad cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids:Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Fibre:All nuts contain fibre, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fibre also makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fibre is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.

Vitamin E:Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaque in your arteries, which can narrow them and 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 your cholesterol.

L-arginine:Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

Despite the long list of benefits, however, keep in mind that nuts contain a lot of fat. Even though most of this fat is healthy fat, it’s still a lot of calories. So take care to consume in moderation.

Nuts can be added to your own homemade muesli or granola, mixed with natural or Greek yoghurt, eaten with fruit and be used in multiple savoury recipes, salads, and deserts! Enjoy!