Go nuts

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES - Su­san Jane White

Nuts are su­per­heroes with an arse­nal of fancy ninja moves. Some of the largest health stud­ies in his­tory — the Ad­ven­tist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physi­cians’ Health Study — have con­sis­tently shown that snack­ing on raw nuts can lead to a 50pc re­duc­tion in heart disease.

Re­search from the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal goes fur­ther, iden­ti­fy­ing nuts as one of seven foods that can help re­duce the risk of heart disease by up to 75pc. You’ll be re­lieved to hear that dark choco­late and red wine qual­ify too. You’re wel­come.

But don’t get too giddy, my friend. You’ll need to re­cruit the un­pro­cessed, un­salted va­ri­ety to make a dif­fer­ence to your ticker. Any­thing else is cheat­ing.

Those flavoured pack­ets in pubs? Bye-bye.

We know that un­salted raw nuts con­tain spe­cial-agent fats that help raise your pro­tec­tive ‘good’ choles­terol (HDL), while low­er­ing that men­ac­ing ‘bad’ choles­terol (LDL). Another spe­cial-agent fat, omega-3, might also help pre­vent blood clots, much the same way as as­pirin does. You’ll find omega 3s danc­ing in wal­nuts.

Many nuts are rich in argi­nine too. Sci­en­tists, look away while I mu­ti­late your lan­guage. Argi­nine is an amino acid nec­es­sary to make a mol­e­cule called ni­tric ox­ide that re­laxes con­stricted blood ves­sels and eases blood flow. Think of it as the Bach of the blood.

This might help ex­plain why nuts are ap­plauded for their role in pro­tect­ing ar­te­rial walls, mak­ing the walls more pli­able and less sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age. Good news for health in­sur­ers. So go nuts with this flap­jack recipe, and let your ticker do som­er­saults. Oh, and just use an or­di­nary cup from your kitchen cup­board to mea­sure the in­gre­di­ents.

Easy-peasy.

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