Nutty Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Did you know that nuts can be part of a heart-healthy diet? Learn why, plus how to add more to your meals.

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Nutty Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Nuts provide your body with protein. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Even better news — eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for your heart.

In fact, certain nuts may lower your risk for heart disease. These include:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts from a variety of pine trees

But before you nosh on too many nuts, just remember: They're a high-calorie food. So eat them in small amounts. Or you can choose to eat them instead of other protein foods like poultry or meat. Also, choose unsalted nuts to keep your salt intake in check.

How do nuts lower my heart disease risk?
Nuts are full of ‘good fats' — heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats have cholesterol-lowering properties. High cholesterol levels can up your risk for heart disease.

Also, all the nut varieties mentioned above are low in saturated fat — a ‘bad' fat that raises cholesterol levels in the blood.

How can I add more nuts to my diet?
A serving size of nuts is the same as 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Try some of these suggestions for eating more heart-healthy nuts today:

  • Toss a small handful of a variety of nuts on a salad.
  • Make a smoothie and add some nut butter.
  • Throw some nuts into a stir-fry.
  • Stir a variety of nuts into yogurt.
  • Mix nuts of your choice into muffin mixes (or other baked goods).
  • Use finely chopped pecans as a coating for fish.
  • Add pine nuts to pesto.
  • Use finely chopped pistachios as a coating for meats.

Get creative! Try some of these ideas or cook up your own — you'll be eating more nuts in no time.

By Lucy M. Casale, Contributing Writer
Created on 05/14/2007
Updated on 07/09/2014
Sources:
  • United States Department of Agriculture. ChooseMyPlate.gov. Why is it important to make lean or low-fat choices from the protein foods group?
  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eatright.org. In a nutshell.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. Foods and nutrients to increase.
  • American Heart Association. Be nutty (but just a little).
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