Growing up as a kid in the 70's I vividly remember the TV commercial for Mounds candy bar which had that catchy little jingle "Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don't." Remember, Mounds was the dark chocolate one with coconut which did not have the almonds. Because I have always been a big fan of nuts that is probably a big reason why I preferred Mounds' chocolate milk cousin, Almond Joy, which came with two nice sized almonds on each end. Halloween was a true success when my bag was filled with Almond Joys.
My snacking habits have vastly improved since those days (especially given my age and cholesterol levels) and while I still afford myself an Almond Joy treat every blue moon, I have been relegated to eating raw nuts and trail mix as part of my diet.
Because of their high unsaturated fat content. fiber, vegetable protein, phytoesterols and other antioxidants, nuts have become a very popular health food for many today. With good reason too! Recent studies have consistently associated nut consumption with the reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Researchers in California found that consuming about a third of a cup (equivalent to a fistful) of nuts a day reduced total cholesterol levels by five percent and bad LDL cholesterol by 7.5 percent. That amount of nut eating also improved the ratio of LDL cholesterol to good HDL cholesterol by 8.5 percent and caused a decrease of ten percent in triglyceride levels among people with high levels of those blood fats.
The study also highlighted that the type of nut being consumed did not matter, whether almonds, macadamias, walnuts, or pistachios, they all seemed to positively affect cholesterol levels. However, in additional studies released this week one nut that has decidedly set itself apart from the rest is the walnut. Not only did walnuts lower LDL cholesterol significantly and total cholesterol by about 5 percent, but they may also quiet inflammation and help relax and dilate blood vessels as well -- two mechanisms that are super beneficial when it comes to cutting cardiovascular disease and heart attack risks. Additionally, walnuts are great because they tend to have more polyunsaturated fatty acids compared with other nuts, particularly the heart-friendly alpha linolenic acid, which is thought to do a great job of stymieing plaque accumulation in arteries.
So go on, enjoy eating this healthy snack, just be mindful that most nuts are high in calories and will add to your waste line if eaten in great quantity. As I have mentioned before, moderation is key.
Published On: October 20, 2010