Your heart is a vital organ, no question about it, but many people seem to miss exactly what’s required to keep your ticker, well, ticking. Most people do at least know what to avoid in order to maintain heart health, there are a few things to avoid.
Firstly, you want to do away with excess sugar as this inches you closer and closer to type 2 diabetes and obesity, both conditions that wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system. Secondly, excess fat, but especially trans fats. Trans fats or hydrogenated fats lead to an increase in bad LDL cholesterol which is a leading cause of heart disease and atherosclerosis, lastly, excess sodium is bad for the heart. It can lead to hypertension which typically results in heart failure amongst other nasty things.
Your heart is constantly working, so it needs constant care and nourishment. If you’re not loading up on healthy fats and micro nutrients, then you’re not quite doing it right. In Order to obtain these specific types of nutrients, some of the best sources are in nuts and seeds. With that said, here’s our top 6 heart healthy nuts and seeds.
Benefits of Eating Nuts Everyday
Top 6 heart healthy Nuts and Seeds
Evidence suggest that almonds contain a number of useful compounds that help lower LDL or low density lipoprotein. This is a form of cholesterol and is actually what is being referred to when negative reference is being made towards cholesterol. That’s because there is also a good cholesterol, whose discovery is a little more recent. This type of cholesterol is called HDL or high density lipoprotein. Incidentally enough, the healthy compounds in almonds help boost the availability of HDL.
This is great because lower LDL and higher HDL results in a healthy heart. A healthy heart means a healthy mind and a healthy body.
The compounds that produce this effect are known as phenols, found in the polyunsaturated fats of the nut.
Linseed or flax seed, whichever you want to call it, is one of the best heart healthy foods. Almost every part of the flax plant it comes from can be fashioned into something of great use. From the fibers which have been spun into textiles for thousands of years (linen), to its use in producing the paper that bank notes are printed on, making flax literally a cash crop. But we are here to talk about the power of the linseed.
Linseed contains the omega fatty acid alpha linolenic acid or ALA. ALA is essential, meaning we need it for normal health and it can only be sourced exogenously through our diet. It is responsible for maintaining the integrity of nerve tissue. A healthy nervous system correlates to a healthy functioning heart since it’s a series of sustained involuntary contractions stimulated by nerve impulses.
The fats found in linseed also have an anti LDL effect, which as we have discussed, is a vital part of ensuring the health of your heart.
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Another great source of ALA, walnuts are your heart’s helping hand. In fact, walnuts are among the most nutrient dense nut sources when it comes to all the good stuff like vitamin E, magnesium and good old omega 3 fatty acids.
Walnuts increase the availability of HDL and decrease the presence of LDL (bad) cholesterol. This helps improve circulation and blood pressure. Along with this, the effects walnut compounds have on increasing fat burning potential are profound. By decreasing visceral fat, you’re also improving the quality of your heart’s health and lowering risk of disease.
Hemp is another valuable crop with similar applications in modern society to that of flax. Hemp is however also famous or infamous for its cannabis bud, enjoyed recreationally, but more and more medicinally for its therapeutic and psychoactive properties.
The seed of the hemp plant is also tremendously valuable. It carries such an incredible nutrient profile it’s often hailed as a superfood. As one of the few complete protein plant sources available, it’s definitely one to include if you’re going plant based. When it comes to heart health, hemp has you covered too.
It contains the stock standard polyunsaturated fats that lower LDL and boost HDL levels for optimized cardiovascular health. Hemp doesn’t stop there, it also comes with arginine, an amino acid that produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has the benefit of improving vasodilation, that action of your blood vessels relaxing for ease of blood flow. This leads to a decrease in blood pressure, and ultimately, a healthier heart.
Hemp seeds are also extremely high in fiber. This benefits the insulin response mechanism and leads to lower risk of hyperglycemia complications such as type 2 diabetes. This has nothing but positive effects on heart health.
Hazel nuts have a strong smokey sweet aroma, making them popular in confectionery and candies. Don’t let their sugary association fool you though, because on their own, hazelnuts are amazing heart healthy foods.
These are rich in good polyunsaturated fats which help increase HDL and lower LDL. These healthy fats also lead to increased fat burning potential, another essential factor towards improving cardiovascular health. The fat busting activity is also helped by the fact that hazelnut compounds reduce triglycerides in the blood.
You will also experience a boots in vitamin E levels, vital as an antioxidant for all round health including that of your heart.
Seeds and nuts are the best food sources when considering natural heart healthy foods. They contain many compounds, including some essential ones which target both the heart muscle and the nervous system for optimal function. These nuts and seeds, despite being fat rich, contain good fats which actually improve weight loss potential, thus giving your heart more added benefits. In a general capacity, nuts and seeds are good for your health. So even if not for your heart, the rest of your body will surely reap the benefits.