Many people stay away from nuts because they are concerned about their fat content and high calories. But surprisingly, they are one of the best snacks you can eat for hearth health. The key is knowing which nuts are lower in fat and contain the highest sources of phytosterols – a substance that blocks your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Healthy nuts are those that contain high amounts of unsaturated fat or “good” fats which help lower total cholesterol levels and LDL levels. When trying to decide which nuts are the best to eat, look at the amount of unsaturated fats in each one. Ideally, high amounts of unsaturated fats and lower amounts of saturated fats should be found in the nuts.
Of the different types of nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios appear to have the highest amounts of unsaturated fats and lowest amounts of saturated fats. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval of these nuts, in addition to almonds, to receive a “healthy heart” distinction on their labeling.
While macadamia nuts and Brazil nuts contain high amounts of unsaturated fats, they also contain higher amounts of saturated fats when compared to other nuts. Because of this, they are not allowed the “heart-healthy” distinction on their labeling. Nonetheless, the amount of saturated fats in these nuts is low in comparison to what you would find in other, high fat snacks such as chips and cookies.
So, if are looking for a healthy snack, grab some nuts. Not only do nuts contain a high amount of unsaturated fat and phytosterols for heart health, they also a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein.