Nuts for Heart Health

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Did you know that regularly eating nuts significantly reduces the incidence of heart disease?
Eating one ounce of nuts five or more times per week can reduce your risk of heart disease by 25-39%.
Why are nuts so beneficial? Although nuts are high in fat, the fat is mostly unsaturated fat which has a beneficial effect on health.  Studies with almonds and walnuts have both shown a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.  The protein in nuts is high in arginine, which helps facilitate relaxation of blood vessels and helps prevent clotting.  Nuts are also considered good sources of dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, potassium and vitamin E.   Walnuts, in particular, are high in alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that is protective to the heart and circulation.  Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and fatal arrhythmias.
Although nuts are beneficial for the heart, they are concentrated in calories and should be substituted for other unhealthy foods you would normally eat (chips, candy, processed foods).  Also, because of the calorie content in nuts, portion control is equally important.
By Sarah Mohrman, RD, MA.

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