Cholesterol is a "sterol present in all animal tissues," according to the United States Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Heart-healthy nuts like pecans and pistachios grow on trees and are, therefore, cholesterol free. Most nuts are replete with essential vitamins and minerals and play an important role in lowering bad cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary disease. The health benefits of consuming certain nuts are well documented. In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a "qualified health claim" in 2003 that states, "scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Almonds are among the nuts that received the Food and Drug Administration's certified health claim of 2003. Almonds are the nutrient-rich fruit seeds of the prunus dulcis tree. These nuts are also an excellent source of fiber and healthy monounsaturated fat. In addition to being replete with essential vitamins and minerals, almonds also contain high levels of protein.
Walnuts provide the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids that are shown to support cardiovascular health. In May of 2009, the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" published findings from a study that documented the benefits of eating walnuts on the physiological processes of the human body. The study concluded that subjects who had walnut-enriched diets demonstrated "significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol for the duration of the short-term trials."
Hazelnuts are rich in polyunsaturated, or "good," fats and vitamin E. The vitamin E in hazelnuts acts as a powerful antioxidant. The cleansing properties of vitamin E help the body rid itself of harmful free radicals that can lead to disease. Adding hazelnuts to a healthy diet also "reduces your risk of developing blood clots that can cause a fatal heart attack," states the Mayo Clinic.
- United States Department of Agriculture: 2005 Dietary Guidelinesrel="nofollow"
- United States Food and Drug Administration: Nuts & Heart Disease
- "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Effects of Walnut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Other Cardiovascular Risk Factors;Deirdre K. Banel and Frank B. Hu; May 2009rel="nofollow"
- The Mayo Clinic: Nuts and Your Heartrel="nofollow"
- more mixed nuts on blue image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.