Sunday, August 10, 2008

Go Nuts for Heart Health

We’ve learned much about the role of inflammation and diet as it relates to heart disease. Consuming nuts with a meal can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels. Sudden spikes in blood sugar follow the typical Western diet of mashed potatoes and white bread. Eating almonds, pistachios, or peanuts with a high carbohydrate meal moderates inflammation, slows digestion, and decreases the amount of oxidative stress that follows a high carbohydrate meal. Nuts are also rich in antioxidants.

Studies show that people who were given a Mediterranean, versus a low fat diet, significantly lowered systolic blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and inflammatory biomarkers for heart disease after three months. The study group supplemented their diet with either walnuts (30 g/day) or virgin olive oil (1 l/week).

Other studies show you can reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease by 20 to 50 percent by eating nuts five times a week.(2) Suggestions include replacing nuts for sugary and starchy snacks such as pretzels and chips – items that are common in the American diet. Additonal benefits include lower triglyceride and increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Nuts are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, phytosterols, magnesium, and folic acid, and rich in monosaturated fats, making them an excellent heart healthy addition to your diet.

(1) Fito´ M, Guxens M, Corella D, et al. Effect of a traditional Mediterranean diet on lipoprotein oxidation. Arch Internal Med 2007;167: 1195–203.
(2) Jenkins D, Kendall C, Josse A, et al. Almonds decrease post-prandial glycemia, insulinemia, and oxidative damage in healthy individuals. J Nutr 2006;136:2987–92. ◦