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January 10, 2013

The case for nuts: Healthiest snack in the cupboard

The case for nuts: Healthiest snack in the cupboard
By Grant Cochrane/
 Almonds, cashews and walnuts have many benefits for your body and brain, research shows.

Almonds: A handful of almonds a day will keep the cardiovascular surgeon away. The lowering of LDL cholesterol, known as the mother of all evil cholesterol, is essential for routine heart pump maintenance. In fact, in those who are at risk of heart disease, the aggressive lowering of LDL cholesterol is necessary. According to the nutty professors at Harvard who study these things, a daily handful of almonds can lower LDL cholesterol enough to reduce cardiovascular disease by a whopping 20 per cent! In some cases, a handful of almonds may be used instead of cholesterol-lowering medication. Almonds are also rich in folate, a vitamin important in keeping hearts, fetuses, bone and brain healthy.
Cashews: Gesundheit. These luxurious nuts are nothing to sneeze at. Cashews are rich in selenium, a mineral shown to protect against prostate cancer. Cashews, like most nuts are best eaten unsalted and raw while the oil is fresh. Like almonds, these nuts are loaded in monounsaturated fats, which is good fat. If “good fat” makes as much sense as “slumber party” or “cat owner,” realize that, like good cholesterol, unsaturated fat acts biochemically to reduce the risk of cancers and coronaries.
Walnuts: Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, walnuts are, like fish, beneficial in lowering cholesterol. They are also rich in arginine, an amino acid important in the synthesis of nitric oxide, which helps relax tense blood vessels.
Pistachios: Pistachios are an excellent source of copper and manganese, and a good source of phosphorus. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin B6 (offering 20 per cent of the daily value per serving) They’re high in fibre, too. A serving of pistachios delivers three grams of dietary fibre (about 12 per cent of the daily value of fibre).
However, these nuts have been known to cause an unfortunate disease known in the medical field as “pistachio nail.” Wrestling vigorously to get at a pistachio may cause scrapes under the tender thumbnail skin, which when further irritated with salt will cause its victim to insert the injured thumb into the mouth.
Peanuts: Peanuts are not your normal nut. In fact, they are legumes. But as we can salt them, roast them and sell them in bulk-food containers, let’s consider them nuts. Peanuts are high in fibre, niacin and a powerful antioxidant called Resveratrol, the same flavenol that gives red wine its reputation as a protector of hearts. Same benefit, less hangover.
While a corn doodle or other empty-carb snack leaves the snacker hungry again in 30 minutes, a handful of nuts satisfies hunger pangs for several hours. Nut snackers actually eat less, lose weight and have less diabetes. Satisfying, high-fat, tasty and highly nutritious.

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