Nutty Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Research shows that nuts are heart-healthy. Find out why and how to add them to your diet.

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Picture of various nuts Nutty Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Go nuts to love your heart! Research continues to show that eating nuts as part of a healthy diet can be good for you. But they're better for you when not eaten simply as a dessert topper. Read on to get the full scoop.

Nuts and your heart:

  • If you have heart disease, nuts are healthier than many other snacks.
  • Eating nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet lowers LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels in your blood.
  • Eating nuts reduces your risk for blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack.
  • Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats (including Omega-3's), which can help your heart.
  • Nuts are high in vitamin E and fiber.
  • Nuts are a good vegetarian source of protein.

How much should you eat?

  • All nuts are good, but some are better than others. Walnuts have the highest amount of omega-3 fats. Almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, and pecans also rank high.
  • Nuts lose their healthy benefits if covered in salt, chocolate, or sugar.
  • Nuts pack a lot of calories for a small amount, so watch your portion size. The recommended amount is 2 ounces of nuts each day. However, as little as 2 ounces per week seem to produce benefits.
  • Use nuts to replace less-healthy snacks or foods. Adding nuts to a diet high in saturated fat will not help.

Menu ideas:

  • Add 2 tablespoons of nuts to yogurt in the morning.
  • Use them as a healthy substitute for more-fattening salad toppers.
  • Try crushed walnuts with light cream cheese on an English muffin.
  • Enjoy a handful of nuts with a piece of fresh fruit for an afternoon snack.
  • Mix nuts with berries and add to cold or hot cereal.
  • Munch on a small handful of soynuts for a quick, savory snack.
  • Mix nuts into quick breads or muffin mixes.
  • Add cashews to a stir fry recipe.
  • For a healthy fruit snack, spread a tablespoon of natural peanut butter onto celery or a sliced apple.

The chart below shows the amount of nuts in 1 ounce, along with other nutritional information. Remember, the fat in nuts is mostly healthy. Nuts are also packed with other vitamins and minerals.

Nuts (1 ounce)

Calories

Total Fat (g)

Protein

Fiber

Almonds (24)

160

14

6

3

Brazil nuts (6)

190

19

4

2

Cashews (18)

160

13

4

1

Chestnuts (3)

65

0.6

1

1

Hazelnuts (20)

180

17

4

3

Macadamia nuts(8)

160

17

2

2

Pecans (20 halves)

200

20

3

3

Pine nuts (157)

160

14

7

3

Pistachios (47)

160

13

6

3

Walnuts (12 halves)

160

15

4

2

For Comparison

 

 

 

 

Potato Chips (12 chips)

150

10

2

0

Doritos (11 chips)

150

8

1

0

Double-Stuff Oreos (3)

210

12

2

0

Glazed doughnut (1)

200

12

2

.5

Snickers bar (1)

280

14

3

1

By Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Staff Nutritionist
Created on 05/14/2007
Updated on 07/18/2011
Sources:
  • Ros E. Nuts and novel biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009;89(suppl):1649S-1656S
  • USDA National Nutrient Database
  • American Heart Association. Frequently asked questions about some common foods.
  • American Dietitic Association. Enjoy soy.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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