Nature's Best Low Carb Snack

Protecting your heart includes decreasing unhealthy fats and increasing the healthy ones -- like those found in nuts.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

People with diabetes need to take special care of their hearts because of the increased risk of heart disease associated with diabetes. Protecting your heart means doing things such as exercising, avoiding refined carbohydrates, and trans fats, and increasing your intake of healthy foods, including nuts — nature's best low carb snack.

When I tell my patients to start adding nuts to their diet, they often look confused and say, “I thought nuts were bad for me.” This is simply not true. Nuts are an excellent, natural, health food full of the good fats — monounsaturated and polyunsaturated — and heath benefits and are continually being studied and touted.

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Several years ago, a review of the effect of nuts on blood cholesterol found that consumption of nuts including almonds, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, and walnuts, can significantly decrease total and LDL cholesterol levels when they are part of a heart-healthy diet.

Walnuts are unique because they contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, which may protect the heart by not only reducing cholesterol, but also by reducing inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of ateriosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Almonds contain a form of vitamin E that may have possible anti-atherogenic effects too. The FDA has acknowledged this benefit and approved a health claim for nuts, which states: “1.5 ounces per day of most nuts may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

Do you need any more reason to start eating a handful of delicious nuts every day? How about better blood sugar control and weight loss?

NEXT: Add nuts to your diet

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Last Modified Date: November 27, 2012

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