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Health Nuts: June 27, 2013

When she wants a little something to munch on, Karen Mars usually goes nuts.

“Well if I’m going to snack, it’s usually with salted nuts, or granola that has nuts in it. I do enjoy that,” says Mars.

Some people shy away from eating nuts, because of high calorie count. But multiple studies are reinforcing their health properties.

“And looking at cardiovascular disease in particular, these are felt to have a number of benefits,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Dr. Taschner is an interventional cardiologist. The most promising nuts include walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts and hazelnuts. And it’s their fatty acids that do the body good.

“It’s really the polyunsaturated fats and the monounsaturated fats which are said to be the healthy fats and they tend to favorably affect the cholesterol profile,” says Dr. Taschner.

That's because nuts help reduce LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and the raise ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol. In addition researchers find they may dilate blood vessels and prevent hardening of the arteries. Nuts are also high in omega 3 and fiber-which makes you feel fuller, faster.

“There are many studies out there that suggest some benefits in terms of reducing cardiovascular endpoints such as heart attacks and strokes and overall cardiovascular mortality. They are also felt to have a blood thinning benefit as well,” says Dr. Taschner.

So people, like Mars, who go nuts in their diet may be better off for it.

“I am on no continuing medications for blood pressure, cholesterol or anything like that,” says Mars.