|Not such a nutty idea||Apr. 20, 2008|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: FRAN BERKOFF|
When it comes to healthy snack foods, nuts are at the top of my list.
They are full of important nutrients including protein, vitamin E, fibre, calcium, potassium and much more and they are also sources of healthy fats that have been linked to heart health.
And, a couple of new studies have shown that when it comes to nuts, it's a good idea to expand your choices.
The first study is looking at pistachios. The research from Penn State studied a group of healthy men and women with slightly elevated cholesterol levels.
All three provided the same amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, but different amounts of unsaturated fat delivered by the pistachios. During the study, the participants had a number of heart disease risk factors measured including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, stroke volume and more.
They found that the people whose diets were rich in pistachios had improved cholesterol levels as well as other important markers, including reduced inflammation, another heart disease risk factor. Previous studies have shown pistachios to be beneficial in helping manage blood pressure and also helping with blood sugar management in people with diabetes.
A one-ounce serving of pistachios (about 49 nuts) contains about 13 grams of fat, more than half of which is the healthy monounsaturated variety, with only 1.5 grams being saturated. The serving also has 3 grams of fibre and a generous amount of potassium. So, it's definitely another healthy, delicious snack to have on your list.
When my friends return from Hawaii, they always bring back macadamia nuts, which I love, and so I was happy to see a study that showed them to be another healthy treat.
These nuts are also rich sources of heart healthy monounsaturated fats associated with lowered LDL-cholesterol levels.
The study looked at a group of healthy people with slightly elevated cholesterol levels. People were divided into two groups, one ate a heart healthy diet with 1.5 ounces (a small handful) of macadamia nuts and the other ate a standard American diet.
The researchers reported that the heart healthy diet with macadamia nuts reduced both total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol by about 9%.
So, once again, there are many reasons to include nuts as part of your healthy eating style.
There is only one caution and that is portion size.
If you eat them in large amounts, both the fat and calories can rise quickly.
|MORE COLUMNS BY FRAN BERKOFF|