Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Walnuts can Help You De-Stress and Improve Heart Health

Walnuts are peculiar little things. They look funny, and they sure taste great with maple sugar, banana muffins, and on top of salads, but their health benefits are no laughing matter. Most people don't realize that those tasty little walnuts actually pack a lot of heart-healthy punch in every bite and as a result, they might be missing out. Are you?

Walnuts are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, you know - the kind we don't get enough of each day. Studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids promote a lowering of LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' kind), help control blood pressure by lowering high blood pressure, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels (which can lead to heart disease) and help people de-stress and relax a bit more.

It can be tricky to get omega-3s from plant sources; other sources include almonds, and the best known plant source is flax seeds, but how much of these things do you have to gobble down in order to protect your heart and your health? Well, according to a new study, about 18 walnut halves, or 9 walnuts is all you need each day in order to see improvement in your health. Just be aware that 18 walnut halves are worth about 235 calories, so if you're watching your caloric intake, be sure to make the appropriate allowance. Just don't let the high calories throw you off - you need healthy fats in your diet and walnuts are an amazing way to get them. So how about a healthy banana walnut muffin for breakfast (or dessert)?