Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Get Fat to Fight Heart Disease

OK - I don't mean make a beeline to your nearest McDonalds or KFC; don't get confused. More and more, studies are showing that reaching for healthy fats, the kind found in nuts, does a body good.

According to a new study published in this month's edition of the Journal of Nutrition, increasing nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a lowering of total cholesterol, including LDL (the bad kind). The researchers followed type-II diabetic women who consumed 1-oz of nuts or 1 tbsp of peanut butter per day for 5 days of the week and found that, compared to women of the same health profile who did not consume nut products, their overall health and risk of CVD was markedly improved.

Furthermore, another new study just published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds even more clout to these claims. In this study, researchers were interested in discovering what effect the consumption of walnuts in particular had on blood lipids (which are key players in the progression and onset of CVD).

Walnuts, as you may or may not know, are very high in Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (or PUFA's), which are excellent for your heart and overall health. Half of the participants in the study supplemented their diets with walnuts for 4-24 weeks, whereas their control counterparts did not. Over all, in individuals consuming high amounts of walnuts, total cholesterol (including LDL) was significantly decreased, but HDL (good cholesterol which lowers risk of CVD), did not decrease (this is a good thing!).

So guys, the bottom line is this - adding a small handful of mixed nuts, especially almonds and walnuts to your diet, or spreading a tablespoon of peanut butter on your toast or veggies is not only a great way to get lasting energy and curb hunger, but it will also keep your ticker healthier (for lack of a better word) for longer! Just a word of caution, however - an ounce of mixed nuts is valued at about 165 calories, and a tablespoon of good ol' PB packs about 100 calories, so just be cognizant of this fact when you're incorporating these foods into your diet. Substitute one serving of your usual butter or margarine with PB and grab your trail mix instead of a granola bar and you should steer clear of weight gain.

Well, what are you waiting for? Chow down! Embrace those (Mono- and Polyunsaturated) fats!