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Heart Healthy Diet: Nutrition experts recommend more nuts

Unless allergic, everyone has a favorite nut. Almonds, cashews, peanuts and every nut in between each has its own distinct flavor.

While enjoyed by many people, new research shows that nut consumption is not nearly high enough when considering the positive impact nuts can have on the heart.

Nutrition experts recommend the inclusion of nuts in a heart-healthy diet, but a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 60 percent of Americans don’t consume these foods on a daily basis.

The study, released in December 2014 and conducted in 2009 through 2010, highlights a major gap in the American diet that could be doing more harm than we realize.

The ideal level of consumption is about an ounce-and-a-half of nuts – equal to about 240 calories – according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines on reducing heart disease.

The CDC study reveals that only about 14 percent of men and 12 percent of women reached that level of consumption.

The Power of Nuts

Because nuts are high in protein, small portions can be eaten as a replacement for other protein foods. Adequate consumption of nuts has been linked, the CDC reports, to decreased obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

For the purpose of the study, the CDC definition of nuts included everything from peanuts, peanut butter and cashews to pumpkin seeds and sesame paste, among many others.

Snack Versatility

The best part about adding nuts to your regular diet is how easy and convenient it is to do so. From cashews to almonds, nuts are easy to pack and require no cooking. Throw some nuts into smoothies or salads, and watch the flavors come alive.

Nuts also are great for on-the-go snacking. You can fill up a sandwich bag with your favorite variety of nuts and dried fruit for a nutritious, heart-healthy boost.

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