We all know about cholesterol and its effect upon cardiovascular (heart) health. Specifically, Low Density Lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly known as LDL cholesterol. When this kind of cholesterol is oxidized in your blood vessels it starts a cascade of events that eventually results in their damage and in severe cases, occlusion or complete blockage (Ehara, et. al, 2001). This may then outwardly presents as chest pain, angina, or a heart attack! Enough of the technical stuff!
One good thing you can do for yourself is eating the good fats which don't have cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in animal products only, and never from plant based oils. The good fats, which I like to call the "fat-less fats", are rich in vitamin E, magnesium and mono saturated fatty acids. I call them "fat-less" because, even though they are fats, studies have shown that women who eat a handful of nuts daily have a lesser risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes and they gained the least weight when compared with women who rarely or never ate nuts at all (Jiang, 2002, & Hu, 1998). Of course when taken in excess, they cease to be healthy and so many health practitioners advise taking a handful at most per day (which is about one ounce).
Nuts (and some seeds too; like sunflower seeds) also have omega-3 and omega-6 fats which are good for heart health. Some good sources of omega 3 & 6 fats include walnuts, flax seeds, sunflowers seeds, and almonds. If you have nut allergies they are still other options of healthy fats which one can heartily enjoy, like avocados and olive oil.
Instead of eating them on their own, nuts and seeds can be eaten in so many different and creative ways which include; using them as a garnish for your breakfast cereal, to your salads, or in making a heart healthy dessert like the "choco-later" carob pudding that we have at In Your Home Vegan Restaurant, which is made with avocado and carob as the base ingredients.
Ehara, S., Ueda, M., Naruko, T., Haze, K., Itoh, A., Otsuka, M., Komatsu, R., Matsuo, T., Itabe, H., Takano, T., Tsukamoto, Y., Yoshiyama, M., Takeuchi, K., Yoshikawa, J. & Becker, A., E. (2001). Elevated Levels of Oxidized Low Density Lipoprotein Show a Positive Relationship With the Severity of Acute Coronary Syndromes. Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/103/15/1955.short
Hu, F., B., Manson, J., E., Stampfer, M., J., Willett, W., C., Rimm E., B., Colditz, G., A., Rosner, B., A., Speizer, F., E. & Hennekens, C., H. (1998). Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in Women: Prospective Cohort Study. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9812929
Jiang, R., Manson, J., E., Stampfer, M., J., Liu S., Willett, W., C. & Hu, F., B. (2002). Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12444862