The trick, says Dr. Goody, is not to eat too many of them.
Numerous plant foods lower the risk of
cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol, low-density
lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) and triglycerides (blood
fat)-while increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL or "good"
These foods include oats, garlic, soybeans ... and nuts
Their beneficial effect is probably due
in part to their high monounsaturated fat and vitamin E content, says
Dr. Goody, but "phytochemicals" could also play a role. These are
substances in plants that protect the body's cells from damage that
could cause cancer or heart disease.
Research shows a variety of tree nuts,
such as walnuts and almonds, significantly reduce total blood
cholesterol and LDL when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat
and cholesterol. Peanuts also contain phytochemicals that may aid in
reducing cardiovascular disease.
To enjoy the health benefits of nuts,
however, they must be eaten in "moderate" amounts (1-2 oz/day, about
the size of four dice). Eat only a small handful of mixed nuts as a
snack, sprinkle walnuts on top of spinach salad, or mix almonds with
cereal and berries.
So go nuts ... but don't go crazy, Dr. Goody warns. A cup of nuts, she points out, is equal in calories to 64 cups of popcorn!