Heart health? Use your nut

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY - For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on nuts and recipe ideas visit www.al­ison­spantry.co.nz or www.moth­ere­arth.co.nz. For more in­for­ma­tion on nuts and heart health visit www.nutsfor­life.com.au

Stud­ies show nuts con­trib­ute to heart health.

It’s well known that nuts pack a nu­tri­tional punch, and now there’s clear ev­i­dence they have ex­cep­tional heart ben­e­fits too af­ter a full re­view of more than 100 aca­demic stud­ies.

The literature re­view, re­leased by Nuts For Life Aus­tralia, con­cludes that a reg­u­lar in­take of nuts is as­so­ci­ated with im­prove­ments in heart health, in­clud­ing coro­nary heart dis­ease and low­er­ing choles­terol.

Nuts are a unique whole­food with a wide range of car­dio pro­tec­tivenu­tri­ents in­clud­ing healthy fats, plant omega-3s and plant sterols. By eat­ing a hand­ful (30g) of nuts a day, as part of a healthy var­ied diet, con­sumers can be as­sured they are equipped with the nu­tri­ents that con­trib­ute to a healthy heart.

This is wel­comed news for New Zealan­ders given more than 40 per cent of deaths are at­trib­uted to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease – mak­ing it one of our big­gest health prob­lems.

‘‘While the nutri­tion com­mu­nity is well aware that nuts are packed with ben­e­fits, this literature re­view is very sig­nif­i­cant in col­lat­ing the aca­demic stud­ies and de­mon­strat­ing just how nuts con­trib­ute to heart health,’’ says New Zealand Nutri­tion Foun­da­tion di­eti­tian Sarah Han­ra­han.

Lead­ing nutri­tion aca­demic and re­view co-au­thor Pro­fes­sor Linda Tapsell says the con­tri­bu­tion of nuts to a healthy diet can be easily un­der­es­ti­mated.

‘‘Nuts are of­ten rel­e­gated to a snack food cat­e­gory and some­times avoided by peo­ple try­ing to lose weight.

The ben­e­fits of heart health were ob­served with­out any ad­verse ef­fects on weight gain and out­comes were shown to be sus­tained for pe­ri­ods as long as 20 years,’’ says Tapsell.

‘‘Like other plant foods, nuts de­liver im­por­tant com­po­nents to the diet and, as such, they can easily be front of mind along­side fruit, veg­eta­bles and grains,’’ she adds.

Dif­fer­ent tree nuts have a va­ri­ety of nu­tri­tional pro­files, but stud­ies have con­cluded that al­monds, brazil nuts, cashews, chest­nuts, hazel­nuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pis­ta­chios and wal­nuts all con­tain the ben­e­fi­cial nu­tri­ents for heart health.

Eat­ing nuts regularly is one tasty pre­scrip­tion to lower blood choles­terol lev­els and main­tain a healthy heart.

Ki­wis can celebrate their love for nuts on Na­tional Nut Day which falls on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 20.

Photo: NUTS FOR LIFE AUS­TRALIA

Nuts have ex­cep­tional heart ben­e­fits so a hand­ful of nuts a day can boost heart health.

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