Health & Fit Try this once-a-day snack habit to help protect your heart

21:06  14 november  2017
21:06  14 november  2017 Source:   TODAY

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6 key habits that significantly contribute to lower risk of heart disease and help you protect your heart . Packaged snack foods (vending machine snacks !) Margarines, hydrogenated and partially All it takes is a few minutes of moderate physical activity a day to keep your heart happy.

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Hanful of nuts.Hanful of nuts. © Shutterstock Hanful of nuts.Hanful of nuts. Nuts, no matter what kind, are loaded with antioxidants.

Nuts have long been considered part of a healthy diet and now a new study supports their role in protecting against heart disease.

Researchers found that people who regularly eat nuts — and that includes peanuts, which are actually legumes — have a 14 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared to those who rarely or never consume the food, according to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"The take home message is to include a handful of nuts per day as a part of a healthy diet to improve heart health and the risk of other chronic diseases," said the study's lead author, Marta Guasch-Ferre, a researcher in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Nuts are high in healthy fat, fiber, minerals, vitamins and several other bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants, which may in part explain their beneficial effects on cardiovascular health."

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1. Bad Habit : Snacking non-stop, even when not hungry. In addition to losing extra weight, slimming your waistline, and protecting yourself from heart disease and diabetes, you'll save money if you What Your Nail-Biting, Hair-Twirling, Knuckle-Cracking Anxious Habits Are Trying to Tell You.

But doing just one or two of these "Big Four" habits isn't enough to protect your heart . For other tips on making good food choices, see "How To Tame a Snack Attack"below and "Vitamins for Heart Health." ( Try to weigh yourself at the same time of day once or twice a week.)

Guasch-Ferre and her colleagues found small differences between the different types of nuts, but none stood out as better than the rest.

One perplexing finding was that peanut butter wasn't protective.

"We believe one of the reasons is that usually peanut butter is consumed with unhealthy foods such as white bread," Guasch-Ferre speculated.

The new study followed over 210,000 people including women from the Nurses' Health Study and the men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, some for as long as 32 years.

Earlier studies had shown that nut consumption was associated with longer life and with a lower risk of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. This is the first large scale study to show that regular nut consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Guasch-Ferre said.

For those worried about high-calorie nuts and weight: Nuts are associated with lower weight gain and lower risk of obesity, probably because they make people feel fuller, Guasch-Ferre said.

Walnuts, in particular, are a great source of magnesium; higher levels of magnesium have been linked with reduced symptoms of depression.

"Nuts are a good source of omega-3-fats, fiber, vitamin E, and the amino acid arginine," said Madelyn Fernstrom, nutrition editor for NBC News. "Together these nutrients support heart health, circulation, as well as both muscle and brain function."

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