Nuts are a storehouse of healthy fats and vitamins, making them a powerful nutrient that can effectively lower bad cholesterol and improve heart health. From almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios, eating a handful each day can provide great benefits for everything from weight loss to blood sugar control. Many studies have confirmed their cholesterol-lowering properties and their ability to provide the body with essential nutrients such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, antioxidants, and a host of vitamins and minerals. It is a myth that eating nuts can increase cholesterol, but this is far from true. (Also read: 7 reasons why you should start your day with soaked nuts)
Not all cholesterol is bad, but healthy cholesterol helps keep bad cholesterol out of our arteries and prevents heart attacks and strokes. Therefore, it is important to include foods rich in good cholesterol for optimal heart health.
How many nuts should be consumed per day
“Nuts help reduce bad cholesterol only when consumed in optimal portions (no more than a handful – 20 g). Due to the high protein and fiber content in nuts, they are very filling. However, they are also high in calories, which can add up. fast and weight gain, so make sure you don’t overdo it,” says Dr Meghana Pasi, nutrition consultant at ArogyaWorld, MyThali programme.
Dr. Pasi suggests some commonly consumed nuts that also help lower bad cholesterol.
1. Walnuts: They are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the same “good” fats found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Omega-3 helps reduce the risk of abnormal heart rhythms; decrease in triglycerides; slows down the rate of clogging of arteries.
2. Almonds: They are rich in vitamin E (antioxidant), protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and support metabolic processes.
3. Peanuts: They contain vitamin B3, niacin, antioxidants, and are a good source of protein and fiber. They contain phytosterols and are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which help reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol.
4. Pistachios: They are rich in phytosterols (plant sterols), which are natural cholesterol-lowering compounds.
5. Cashews: They are the best sources of several minerals including zinc, copper, magnesium, selenium and vitamin K. They also contain several flavonoids, and their antioxidant content increases when roasted.
Healthy ways to consume nuts
• Add them to salads, cereals, fruit, milkshakes, smoothies, curries or sauces, stewed vegetables and soups.
• Avoid sugar-coated, chocolate-dipped, salted or fried nuts. This will add a lot of sodium, fat and sugar to your diet.
• Prefer unsalted natural nuts or roast them without salt or soak them overnight and eat them the next morning.