Eating The Right Foods Can Be A Life-Saver:
A lot of us have trouble eating healthy, and think of things like nuts & seeds as just a snack.
Even more of us have trouble adding-back vitamins & minerals to the decreasingly-nutritious western diet.
But one trend that’s gaining popularity is trying to get less processed-food.
Especially Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s clever sub-theme of getting key nutrients only from food and not supplements.
And there is some pretty surprising upside for fans of one of Dr. Joel’s favorite foods…
Let Food Be Your Medicine:
So one of the big concepts Joel likes to forward is food as a multivitamin.
When you listen to him about the hundreds or even thousands of un/under-studied micronutrients in something as simple as a big salad (which he recommends 1x/day),
He makes it sound very sensible.
And one of the food items he & Dr Neal Barnard mention frequently is Nuts.
Well, some researchers at Harvard did a study and it turns out this silly little snack-item can actually help protect you against one of the biggest killers out there.
Nuts Fight The Number One Killer:
-Cardiovascular & Heart Disease.
In a series of 3 different major studies examined by Marta Guasch-Ferré’s team,
It turns out that getting nuts in your diet protects you against 3 big circulatory-disease risks:
1) Cardiovascular Disease (hardening of the arteries)
2) Congestive Heart Disease (heart-attack)
3) Stroke (to a lesser extent)
Lucky for us, pretty much every type of nut in peoples’ diets had a positive effect.
And this protection amounted to 14% reduced-risk of 1) and 19% less of 2)
The special fats in them also reduce LDL and increase HDL in the blood to improve people’s cholesterol-profile, too.
Which Nuts & How Much To Eat:
The protective effects from circulatory-diseases occurred even at the relatively-tiny dose of 5 1-Ounce Servings per Week.
And these held for Tree-Nuts, Walnuts, and Peanuts.
(unfortunately, great stuff like Pumpkin & other Seeds were not tested)
-But the interesting part is among all of them, Walnuts seemed to have the greatest positive effects.
-Even for the 1 category where all other nuts seemed to have no effect: Avoiding Stroke. By 17%!
Peanut Butter On The Other Hand…:
However! -The only category of nut intake with less-than-snazzy results was Peanut Butter.
Along with those in an editorial that comes with the study,
A few speculations can come up as to why:
1) Crappy Additives like Sugar, Salt, & Hydrogenated Oils for taste & spreadability
2) Almost nobody eats Natural peanut butter.
3) Peanut Oil will oxidize faster once the nuts are ground.
4) Peanut Oil is full of Omega 6. We already get too much, and more would just cause inflammation.
Walnuts Are Winners!:
Almonds are probably one of the healthiest nuts you can eat, even though doctors recommend getting a mix for best results.
-But they are beaten-out by one type: Walnuts.
And strangely-enough, Walnuts beat them soundly in that fatty-acid we all need more of: Omega 3!
Although Flax-Seeds have a much higher concentration of Omega 3s, just try chowing down on them, even when they’re ground. -Yuck.
But walnuts are much more tasty, & easy to integrate into your diet, even though they have less than 1/2 the O3 concentration.
And if you read the chart, they also reduce Hardening of the Arteries and Heart-Attack risk by 5% and 2% better than all others.
Nuts Have Micronutrients:
Not only do Walnuts & others have healthy fats,
They also have Arginine (which helps circulation similar to Viagra), Folic acid, Potassium, Fiber, all 8 forms of Vitamin E, and Magnesium,
Which most people eating a western diet are deficient-in.
Not only that, but Magnesium might just be the key.
In more than 1 study, people who had heart-attacks were also Magnesium-deficient.
Just note please, that it is Absolutely possible to take too much Magnesium, so get Only the USRDA,
Or as Neal Barnard suggests, just a palm-sized handful of nuts 1 level thick, preferably on a salad so you don’t overeat.
Diet Is Better Than Supplements:
Whatever you do, remember that getting your vitamins & minerals through your diet is still better.
They will be in a buffered, slow-release form that is much harder to overdose on than something in a pill.
And unless part of an eating-competition, you’ve never heard a study on the bad health-effects of overdosing on cashews. (except if you get fat by failing to subtract the 140+ calories from your daily total)
-But it seems every few months a new study comes out saying that people who regularly took one type of vitamin or supplement overdid it, probably because the pill was too concentrated & unbuffered, and ended up with bad effects.
-Like the study that showed an increase in prostate-cancer from men who took vitamin e supplements regularly.
So just remember ancient man was perhaps not that stupid after-all. Hippocrates himself said to let food be your medicine.
If he knew how healthy nuts are, especially for saving your freakin’ life, he’d be proud to hear his ideas work even now.
Photo Credits: Image “Happy Squirrel”, by likeaduck
• Source: Harvard TH Chan School
• More Coverage: ACC.org
• Source Study: JACC-Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease