Go Nuts For A Healthy Eating Experience
Yes, healthy eating can include foods that contain fats!
Not that many years ago, just about any food that had fat was looked at as unhealthy and eating it was discouraged. That was a big mistake. Many foods that have fats are essential for good health. What determines whether they are healthy or not is the type of fats they contain. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, so why not try making nuts part of a healthy snack for a change and better nutrition.
Research supports that healthy fats–monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fat (PUFA)–actually lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. A body of evidence has accumulated on the health benefits of tree nuts–almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts–which provide an excellent source of MUFAs, PUFAs and other health-protective nutrients.
Each nut kernel is a concentrated source of key nutrients, including protein, vitamin E, folate, fiber, minerals and phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and phenolic acids. In addition to their healthy MUFAs and PUFAs, walnuts, contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts’ nutrient-rich package boosts their ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation that is the root of chronic disease. In addition, studies show that if you include nuts for a snack instead of other choices, your overall nutrient intake for the entire day will be improved.
While scores of studies have examined the impact of eating nuts on a variety of conditions, the most concrete link exists for heart health.
“It’s well established that people who eat nuts on a regular basis have a lower risk of heart disease,” says nutrition researcher Joan Sabate, M.D., Dr. P.H., Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Loma Linda University in California. “It is clear that there are many mechanisms by which eating nuts reduce heart disease. They reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, contain powerful antioxidants and influence inflammatory parameters. This is well established in clinical trials of different populations and different countries.”
Adding nuts to your diet can also have beneficial effects for managing and preventing diabetes and also to prevent age related slowing of brain function.
We have all seen and most likely know people with diabetes or have possibly been affected by someone with a brain debilitating disease. The incidence of these chronic diseases continues to increase each year and can have enormous costs both financially and for quality of life. Adding nuts to your food choices is one way to enhance eating healthy and to boost overall nutrition that can be a factor for possible prevention of these terrible conditions.
Eating nuts can help manage and prevent type 2 diabetes.
“Research shows that females who regularly eat nuts in general, and in particular walnuts, have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And a small clinical trial found that nuts incorporated into the diet of diabetics helped control blood cholesterol levels,” says Sabate.
A 2011 study in Diabetes Care found that two ounces of nuts daily as a replacement for carbohydrate foods improved both glycemic control and serum lipids in type 2 diabetes. “There is a double effect for diabetes–nuts can improve the metabolism of glucose, and lower cholesterol and inflammatory parameters for heart disease, the leading cause of death in those with type 2 diabetes,” says Sabate.
The brain and beyond
New studies have also found a protective link between nut consumption and cognitive health. Animal research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, linked a diet containing as much as six percent walnuts (equivalent to one ounce in humans) with reversing age-related motor and cognitive deficits in aging rats. While Sabate reports that there is not enough evidence to know for sure if walnuts can protect your brain from age-related decline, the preliminary results are promising.
Additional studies have found that nuts may offer benefits for fertility, bone health and cancer protection, but more research needs to occur before we can fully understand nuts’ potential in these conditions.
So as you can see, nuts are really a great health food. They could help balance the omega 3 fats vs the omega 6 fats we get too much of. Instead of those bad fat or sweet snacks you may now be enjoying, why not substitute any number of nuts into your food choices.
Add them to salads or just enjoy at any time of day.
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