Health conscious adults today are looking for ways to slow down the aging process and its associated physical problems. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, it’s in your best interest to develop lifelong habits that will benefit you for decades. You might be moving toward your 60s and starting to feel the effects of decreased energy level as well as the results of a lifestyle and genetics that can lead to heart or other unnecessary life-shortening diseases.
Scientific research has shown that foods contain properties that can either contribute to diseases related to aging, such as heart disease, cancer or even Alzheimer’s disease, or help prevent these diseases. Foods that contain phytonutrients, a kind of antioxidant, rid the body of free radicals, the oxygen molecules shown to play a role in these diseases.
Choosing healthy foods is one of the key factors that will help lengthen your life with a lower chance of developing a debilitating disease. A healthy diet made up of foods proven by research to protect your heart, brain and other organs should be used in conjunction with physical activity and other healthy lifestyle habits to improve your quality of life for decades.
Once considered diet sabotage, nuts such as almonds and walnuts have gained respect as snacks that provide essential omega-3 fatty acids. Despite the fact that nuts are high in fat, it is the good monounsaturated fat rather than dangerous saturated fat. In fact, nuts are a healthy alternative to many snacks considered low-fat alternatives.
Walnuts and almonds, along with many of their nutty cousins, are most frequently mentioned as beneficial for the heart. They help reduce your LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol. They also reduce the incidence of triglycerides, another risk factor in heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts and almonds have been shown to help the heart avoid risky rhythms that can lead to heart attacks as well as prevent the formation of blood clots.
Almonds and walnuts can help your brain too. Some researchers have found that these nuts have the potential to improve brain function and memory and improve mood as well. Part of the reason for these benefits may be that the nuts increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that occur naturally in your brain. The antioxidant properties found in the nuts may prevent the loss of memory and degenerative diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease.
You likely know that losing weight is one way to help prevent the discomfort and disease that aging often brings. It would seem that including nuts in your diet is counterproductive. However doctors, researchers and dietitians now sing the praises of walnuts and almonds in a low-calorie, low-fat diet, as long as they are consumed in moderation. Most health professionals recommend consuming about an ounce and a half of nuts, or about a handful of them, once a day. You should avoid the highly salted nuts so that you won’t raise your blood pressure due to excess sodium levels.
Although most nuts, including walnuts and almonds, have a fat content of about 80 percent, since they are so dense, they satisfy your need for something filling. Recent research has even shown that about 20 percent of the calories found in nuts aren’t absorbed by the body. Diet experts advise using the nuts to replace high calorie snacks such as chips or cookies, rather than simply adding the nuts to your diet. Read more about this in our Anne Hathaway aging article.
Almonds and walnuts can even improve your skin’s appearance, thanks to their high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin E is one of the most essential nutrients the skin needs and almonds are a very good source of the vitamin. Consuming almonds helps give your skin a healthy glow. Selenium, a mineral necessary for good skin condition, is also found in almonds. It can help you erase dark under-eye circles and the appearance of tired, sunken eyes.
Researchers have recently begun to investigate the impact almonds and walnuts, as well as other nuts, may play in reducing the risk of cancer. Researchers have known for years that antioxidants play an important role in helping prevent cancer. Now they’re looking at how the antioxidants found in nuts might limit or reduce the growth of cancerous tumors in the body.
Nuts that just a few decades ago got a lot of bad press are now some of the most highly-recommended foods for health-conscious people. Making sure you eat an ounce and a half of walnuts or almonds each day will pay dividends for years.