Nuts For Your Heart

“I like juices and antioxidants. I’m a health nut”

– Trudie Styler

walnut, nut

What’s a Nut Good For?

As almost any other nutrition item, nuts have been put to the health test: are they for your health? Aside from home remedies and intuition, we now have hard-science that tells us an astounding yes!

In a study on the “Health benefits of nuts,” researchers [1], from the University of Oslo and the University of Minnesota, found that nuts strongly reduce the rate of death related to cardiovascular (CVD) and coronary heart diseases (CHD). In their words, “Nuts … constitute one of the most nutritionally concentrated kinds of food available.”

CVD and CHD Heart Diseases in Elderly Adults

In 2005, 82% of CVD related deaths in the U.S. were attributed to adults, aged 65 and up. CVD in seniors “imposes a huge burden in terms of mortality, morbidity, disability, functional decline, and healthcare costs.”

CHD is also a serious issue for seniors. The “major modifiable risk factors for most of the coronary disease afflicting the elderly” include “hypertension, dyslipidemia, impaired glucose tolerance, and obesity.”

The Magic Ingredient – Antioxidants

Although the researchers didn’t have enough information to determine what about the nuts produced the results, they assumed it to be antioxidants.

Antioxidants are proposed to quench free radicals along with reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, found in the body, which are believed to be responsible for a host of health issues. Based on the reviews of several previous studies, the researchers offer a partial, yet impressive list of these health issues:

  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Ischemic diseases
  • Cancer
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Emphysema
  • Organ transplantation
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Hypertension and preeclampsia
  • Neurologic diseases
  • Alcoholism
  • Smoking-related diseases

Nuts with Highest Content of Total Antioxidants

No doubt you’ll look to stock up on some nuts, after seeing that list. Just make sure to get some of the ones in the following list. These have the most total antioxidants, according to the researchers.

  • Tree nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Chestnuts
  • Peanuts (a legume)

Fortunately, they are quite accessible. A peanut-butter sandwich, anyone?

Do you incorporate nuts into your daily diet?

Please share in the comments below.

[1] Blomhoff, Rune, Monica H. Carlsen, Lene Frost Andersen, and David R. Jacobs. “Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants.” British Journal of Nutrition 96, no. S2 (2006): S52-S60.

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