Monday, August 15, 2011

Nosh On Walnuts to Improve Cardiovascular Health

What could be better than a tasty, crunchy, snack that keeps you feeling full, improves your cardiovascular health and can help you manage your weight all in one convenient little package? Not to mention the fact that this food is loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats including omega-3s, fibre and some protein, you would almost think that it's too good to be true. So why is it that so many people are afraid of adding nuts to their diet?

Despite being calorie dense and mostly fat, there is no reason to fear adding nuts to your diet (unless, of course, you're allergic!). Some people avoid nuts all together because they feel that they will gain weight by eating them, but unfortunately, that mind set has been shown to be ineffective when it comes to maintaining good health and even when it comes to weight loss. Instead of seeking a magic pill or powder that claims to do the same things as nuts, why not just embrace them? It seems illogical to avoid something that has been proven to be so good for you in search of a cash-grabbing man-made alternative.

Particularly when it comes to heart health, there is plenty of evidence to support the effectiveness of adding almonds, pistachios and walnuts to your diet. In the case of walnuts, recent research has found that adding just a few of them to your diet each day for two months can improve your endothelial function, which is a measure of blood vessel health. It is the ability of blood vessels to dilate and contract, which is essential for controlling blood pressure and flow and is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease. Not surprisingly, adding nuts like walnuts to one's diet can also help lower blood pressure.

In addition, despite being calorie-dense, if individuals mindfully account for the calories added to their diets from nuts and balance energy in with energy out, weight gain is not a concern. Most people are able to maintain their body weights or even lose weight, since snacking on nuts can help keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day, helping to control your appetite.

So in short, give walnuts (and other nuts) a chance! Try adding either 12 walnut halves, 12 almonds or a similar amount of pistachios to your diet each day. Change things up day to day to make things interesting, be sure to account for an additional intake of 100-200 calories by balancing the remainder of your food intake accordingly, and watch your health improve like magic.