Nuts are affordable and delicious, and the perfect snack for almost any time of the day. They are quite good for you too when consumed in moderation and without added salt.
Though many varieties of nuts are high in calories, those calories come from healthy fats, protein, and fiber, which are the nutritional building blocks that benefit the body in numerous ways, including the heart.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes nuts awesome, then some of the particular nuts that you should consider adding to your diet.
How Nuts Support Heart Health
No one is completely sure why nuts benefit the heart. It’s impossible to directly observe the action and pathways that the nutrients from nuts take to reach the many cells found within the body. However, research has observed that people who eat nuts may potentially benefit in one of several ways.
First, nuts appear to help the body to maintain healthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. LDL is often called “bad cholesterol.” A precursor to all kinds of poor cardiac health, LDL is frequently much too high in adults who eat a Western diet. Nuts that are part of an everyday diet may be enough to move the needle in the right direction.
Second, nuts also seem to help regulate a healthy inflammation response in the immune system. When inflammation is present in the body’s blood vessels, the vessels lose their smooth interior texture. As a result, it’s easier for plaque to form, which can restrict blood flow (increasing blood pressure), or even causing blood flow to be interrupted (heart attack or stroke).
Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols, and l-arginine are likely closely related to one or all of these effects.
Now that we know why nuts may be ideal for supporting heart health, let’s look at the best nuts for heart health overall.
The Best Nuts For Heart Health
The good news here is that pretty much any nut offers support for your health. However, not all nuts have the same concentration of nutrients, and others may be disqualified because of their high calorie content. Still others may just not be very enjoyable for you. All of these factors considered, here are the best nuts for heart health in our very humble opinion.
Apricot Seeds – While not a nut per se, apricot seeds courtesy of Apricot Power definitely have much of the flavor, nutrition, and culinary potential of more familiar nuts. In addition, apricot seeds have a bright, distinctive flavor that may be desirable for find more conventional nuts a little bland.
Cashews – Cashews (a key ingredient in numerous Garden of Life products) have some of the lowest fat content of any of the familiar nuts at your supermarket. As a result, cashews can be added to just about any diet without adding too many calories. Moderation is still key, but the benefits here can easily outweigh the costs.
Macadamia Nuts and Brazil Nuts – Macadamia Nuts and Brazil Nuts (both available from Now Foods) may be on the higher end of the caloric spectrum, but both feature very complex nutritional profiles that will likely deliver the results you are looking for.
Of course, just about any other nut that you enjoy will have at least some benefit for cardiac health, when consumed regularly and in moderation. If you don’t yet snack on nuts, buy a carton instead of chips or other salty snacks. Snack your way to better heart health!