Staying physically active and socially engaged, along with eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are all key components of a long and vital older age. Although there may be foods that should be avoided or cut back on like red meat, baked goods, and refined flours, pasta, and sugar, other tasty foods like nuts, and specifically walnuts, can be heart healthy.
As part of a Mediterranean diet – a food plan that consistently comes out on top as one of the healthiest approaches to eating, nuts are a nutritious and beneficial source of fats and may help control weight gain. Because nuts contain antioxidants, they may also help protect your cells.
A newer study suggests that walnuts, in particular, may have cardiovascular health benefits by helping to lower total cholesterol, lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, lower triglycerides, and lower apoprotein B – a protein associated with cardiovascular disease. According to a recent Harvard Health blog, people who eat nuts regularly have improved cardiovascular risk and lower rates of heart disease. Nut consumption is also linked with lower blood pressure.
Walnuts consumption is associated with improved blood lipids without promoting weight gain. Eating a small handful or two of unsalted walnuts can help fill you up as a satisfying snack or can be added to salads, plain greek yogurt, steel-cut oats, or used to make pesto. According to The Adventist Health Study, nut eaters outlive non-nut eaters by an average of two to three years. Walnuts are the only plant-based food that contains the omega-3 fat, alpha-linoleic acid.
Whether you are trying to improve cholesterol, drop some weight, or lower blood pressure, eating a handful of unsalted nuts, especially walnuts, daily could be a game-changer. Sound like a good excuse to make a Costco run – just stay away from the baked goods section!