Go Nuts for Life

Heart disease was the biggest killer in the US in 2016. Healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle are two of the biggest factors to keep yourself from becoming part of that statistic. But did you know how large a part nuts play in that lifestyle?

A study in the medical journal BMC Medicine showed that just a handful of nuts a day can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by almost 30 percent! And that includes all types of nuts: hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamias, cashews and even peanuts, which aren't actually a nut, but a legume. And that's not all.

The same handful of nuts reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21 percent, and the risk of all cancers by 15 percent. Respiratory disease took 147,101 Americans in 2016,and eating nuts makes that risk decrease by more than half, to 52 percent.

Why are nuts so good for you? First, remember to eat in moderation. Too many, and you are at risk of gaining weight, which is counter-productive. So keep to the handful. If necessary, you may borrow someone else's hand, if yours is too small. Nuts are delicious! They are also full of anti-oxidants, and high in fiber, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats. That officially makes them a super-food.

In addition to their success in fighting heart disease and cancers, this study showed that eating a handful of nuts every day also decreased the risk of diabetes by almost 40 percent and the risk of infectious diseases by 75 percent. But before you buy a can of mixed nuts, there's a caveat: Eat them unsalted, and dry-roasted or raw. If you buy them raw, giving them a gentle toast in a hot pan while shaking the pan will give them a better flavor and texture. Almonds are your best bet, with the lowest calorie and fat count, but mix it up. Do keep in mind that macadamias and pecans have the highest fat count, and the lowest amount of the healthy stuff. And pairing your pecans with sugar is a no-no.

The bottom line? Eating nuts lengthens life expectancy. Use them atop salads, eat them out of hand, add nut crumbs to panko bread crumbs, (then bake, don't fry), or toss them into a stirfry. Magickitchen.com has a menu dedicated to heart-healthy meals that are low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fats. Combine that with a handful of nuts, and your future looks rosy!