Did you know that eating nuts may be a great way to protect your heart, manage your cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation linked to heart disease? Research suggests that nuts can do all of this and here’s how. First, the “good fats” contained in nuts, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have been found to lower LDL cholesterol levels by decreasing the development of plaque that builds up in arteries and blood vessels. The fiber content helps with this and may help you feel more full and eat less. Nuts also contain omega 3 fatty acids that aide in reducing your risk of developing blood clots that can cause fatal heart attacks or heart arrhythmias. Additionally, nuts are rich in Vitamin E that may stop the development of plaque in your arteries and veins, which can cause chest pain or heart disease. Finally, nuts are a source of l-arginine, an amino acid that improves the flexibility of your blood vessels and helps with blood flow and oxygenation of your body.
Because nuts are high in calories and healthy fats, you should eat them in moderation. Eat them without salt, and of course, without sugar and chocolate or you may cancel out the heart-healthy benefits. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of unsalted nuts a week. This doesn’t seem like much to me as an athletic teenager looking for healthy sources of protein for snacks. Like all foods, you have to take in consideration your overall age, health, fitness levels and goals.