by Penny Kris-Etherton PhD, RD, Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, Alicia Kroat RD,
We have long known about the
cardiovascular benefits of nuts and peanuts.
Several population studies conducted in the United States have shown
that consuming nuts/peanuts ≥ 5 times/week lower the risk of coronary heart
disease (CHD) by about 40%. There are
multiple mechanisms that have identified that account for this, including
lowering LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL-cholesterol and decreasing blood
pressure. A new study published on
November 20, 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine by Ying Bao and
colleagues showed that consumption of 1 oz./day of nuts (such as almonds,
brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and
walnuts), as well as peanuts was inversely associated with total
mortality. Specifically, men and women
who consumed nuts/peanuts (1 oz. serving) seven or more times per week had a
20% lower death rate. In addition, there
were inverse associations for death due to cancer, heart disease, and
respiratory disease. Another interesting
finding was that individuals who consumed more nuts had a healthier lifestyle
and also were leaner.
The message is resoundingly clear
that incorporating nuts in a heart healthy diet will confer many health
benefits beyond cardiovascular disease.
Nuts/peanuts are a nutrient dense food and are high in unsaturated fats,
plant protein, vitamins E, folate and niacin, and the minerals magnesium,
calcium and potassium. They also are a
rich source of many bioactive phytochemicals that contribute to the health
benefits in many different ways, i.e., anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
properties. Nuts/peanuts are very versatile in that they can easily be
incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern.
For example, nut butter and peanut butter can be spread on whole grain
bread, bagels or English muffins in the morning. For lunch or dinner, sprinkle nuts/peanuts on
salads or vegetables, and use them for a variety of nut-encrusted lean protein
With the Holiday Season
approaching, it is the perfect time to start experimenting with nut dishes for
family and friends. What better way to
celebrate the Season by "giving the gift of health” to your loved ones.
Enjoy this holiday recipe as a
delicious way to increase your fruit, vegetable and nut intake all in one dish!
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