If you’ve been hopping from one extreme and punishing health fad to another — stop. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, balance and sustainability is key. Get yourself adequate rest and exercise each day, eat in moderation — and yes, it really isn’t a cardinal sin to snack, as long as you snack right.
In conjunction with World Heart Day on 29 September, Nature's Wonders, together with Singapore Heart Foundation, will show you how to incorporate nutritious, healthful nuts as delicious snack options into a heart-healthy lifestyle.
So here’s why nuts are good for you.
#1: They have the Heart-Health Trifecta: High Fibre, Low Sodium and Good Fats.
A strong heart doesn’t just beat at a constant rate: it goes easy and slow when you are at rest, yet races hard and fast when you need it to. Similarly, eating for heart health is about the right highs and lows.
A diet high in fibre has been found to lower both "bad" and overall cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre can bind with cholesterol in the gut, reducing absorption and increasing excretion. And while most associate a high-fibre diet with chomping on greens, munching on nuts can help increase your fibre intake too. Almonds, pistachios and pecans all contain an equivalent or more than 4.1g of fibre in a 100g serving — that’s higher fibre content than broccoli (though, of course, we aren’t asking you chomp down nuts in the same quantity as vegetables!)
Conversely, sodium — which is present not just in salt but also many processed foods and baked goods, is something you want low levels of. Excess sodium causes our body to draw more water into our blood, thereby increasing the total volume of blood in the vessels and raising the blood pressure. High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and adds unnecessary strain, and is a major risk factor for heart disease.
The balancing act continues with one’s consumption of fats. In this case, it’s all about lowering your intake of saturated fats (such as those in meat) that can raise “bad” cholesterol levels, and replacing them with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, such as in that found in oily fish and — you guessed it — nuts.
#2: Nuts are superfoods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids to help balance cholesterol levels.
What exactly is cholesterol, you ask. Simply put, it’s a fat-like substance that is essential for body functions. Cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream through lipoproteins, such as low-density lipoproteins (LDL) — also known as “bad” cholesterol; and high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the “good cholesterol”. Excess LDL in bloodstream can form thick, hard deposits on the walls of arteries, leading to clogs. HDL actually “picks up” cholesterol and sends it back to the liver for disposal, thus helping to control overall cholesterol levels, and in turn reducing the risk of heart-disease related conditions. Omega-3 rich walnuts and pecans are among superfoods that can help to raise HDL levels — and even lower LDL levels for some. Omega-3 have also been shown to reduce the risk of developing blood clots and reduce blood pressure levels in those with high blood pressure. Now that’s something to chew on.
#3: When mixed with other superfood like berries and fruits, nuts are even more amazing for your health.
Remember those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you loved as a kid? While you might have outgrown those cloying flavours, the combination of rich nuttiness with fruity sweetness holds pretty universal appeal. Beyond a tasty combination, they are healthful as well. Blueberries, strawberries, goji, and acai berries are all superfoods packed with flavonoids that can dilate blood vessels, helping with circulation and lowering blood pressure. Pair them with nuts and you get a delicious mix of textures and flavours — and a great dose of healthy nutrients.
The specially created ranges from Nature's Wonders are curated and blended for optimal enjoyment. Rather than pick out the individual pieces of fruits and nuts, munch on a handful of the mixtures to get the most of them. Lightly baked with no added salt or oil, the wholesome and delicious treats serve also as nutrient-rich, energising snacks for any time of the day. The Halal-certified range also comes in convenient re-sealable bags, making it perfect for those on the go!
#4: Pick only the best nutty mixes for a health and energy boost that tastes great too.
Most nuts are great — and some are especially wondrous. Nature's Wonders Hearty Mix is a blend of premium dried fruits and nuts picked specially for their heart-healthy properties. It features naturally cholesterol-free unsalted pecans, which are powerhouses full of good fats, fibre and flavonoids that are great for the heart. The mixture also contains fibre-rich cashew nuts and goji berries; the addition of cranberries — another popular superfood known as a good source of vitamins and antioxidants — packs even bigger health benefits into a crunchy, chewy mouthful from the bag. Nature’s Wonders Mighty Mix offers a delicious combination of soft dried fruits like cranberries and blueberries coupled with crunchy, perfectly-baked walnuts and macadamia. While the berries contain powerful antioxidants, the nuts are a source of good fats (e.g. Omega-3, monounsaturated fat) — nutrients that are believed to improve our heart health.
Healthy snacks can indeed go beyond vegetable sticks. Why not pick up a pack from the Nature’s Wonders range of thoughtfully created mixes? Your heart will thank you for incorporating a nutritious and delicious snack into your lifestyle.
Get your Nature’s Wonders snacks at leading supermarkets and hypermarkets, RedMart, and Fairprice Online.