Go Nuts - Food For Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading killer among Americans and it's often a result of years of unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. You've heard about foods that are bad for your heart, but what about foods that are good for your heart? Here's how adding certain foods can lower your risk of heart disease.

Can dessert lower your risk of heart disease?  New research says it can.

Kelly Goodman, R.D., L.D., says "We try to incorporate the healthier fats, the unsaturated kind, less of the saturated, which are going to increase the cholesterol in your blood."

According to this nutritionist,  nuts and oils make these dishes healthy. They each contain a fatty acid called linolenic acid.

"What these fatty acids do, they're unsaturated fats, which are what we call the good fats and they help to lower your LDL and total cholesterol," says Goodman.

They can also lower your heart disease risk. A new study shows adults with higher levels of linolenic acid in their diet have a 39-percent lower risk of heart disease. Cardiologist Curtis Weaver, M.D., isn't surprised.

"Fats are not necessarily all bad. They are an essential part of the body's natural synthetic processes," Dr. Weaver, of Florida Heart Group, tells Ivanhoe.

You have to eat foods, however, that contain them to get linolenic acids. They're found in soy, canola, flaxseed and corn oils, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and green leafy vegetables.

Dr. Weaver says diet is the most modifiable risk factor people have to prevent their risk of heart disease.

"There have been studies that have shown that just with dietary modifications alone, we can prevent progression of atherosclerosis and, in some instances, we can probably even have regression of existing disease," he says.

So do your heart a favor -- and go nuts!

Goodman says, while nuts and oils are a good source of linolenic acids, you shouldn't go overboard. Nuts and oils still contain fat so add them to your diet in small quantities.

by ~ Michelle Mortensen