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Eat Nuts to Lower the Risk of Heart Diseases

Such is the overwhelming power of the low-fat diet concept that many of us consider any food that packs a substantial fat content as the anti-thesis of health. This is reflected in our rather unsophisticated system of food labelling. Pick up a packet of nuts and the discouraging ‘high fat’ warning sign glares back at you. Indeed, that is enough to put even the most knowledgeable of health conscious customers off this particularly fatty food.

There is no doubt that nuts are a fat-laden food, with fat accounting for the bulk of their not negligible calorific content. The thing is, however, if we get drawn into the whole low-fat hysteria, we are in danger of missing a point. What really matters when it comes to impact on our health is the quality of fats we eat. Nuts happen to be packed full of largely healthful unsaturated fats of both the mono- and polyunsaturated type.

Another mistake is to reduce complex foods down to simply how much fat they contain, with no consideration given to the multitude of other nutrients they offer. Regarding nuts, we see a food that contains considerable amounts of vitamins, particularly the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E (incomparably better when derived from our diet than from dietary supplements), minerals, specifically magnesium, dietary fibre and just as can be expected from a plant food, a whole array of beneficial phytonutrients.

It seems paradoxical that despite the cautionary labeling of nuts due to their high fat content, we see an essentially cardio-protective food. This exceptional combination of unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients appears to be an effective prescription for prevention of cardiovascular disease. In fact, a review of epidemiological studies showed that the risk of cardiovascular disease was 37% lower in those consuming nuts more than four times per week compared to those who did not eat nuts at all, with an average reduction of eight percent for each weekly serving of nuts.

Let us disprove the next criticism aimed at nuts: all that fat and all those calories; surely they make us fat. Given this belief, nuts are being avoided by the weight conscious. However, the evidence just does not support this assumption. If anything, the opposite seems to be true. People who eat nuts regularly appear to be slimmer than those who shun them. Nuts happen to possess a strong satiety effect, essentially leaving you feeling fuller for longer. If that means you are less likely to fill up on nutritionally empty calories and high-energy junk foods that makes nuts beneficial to our waistline as well as our general health.

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