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Go Nuts (Healthy Nuts, That Is)

Making a heart-smart grocery list filled with heart-healthy snacks? Add a bag of peanuts.

Saving your own life doesn't get much easier than this: Eat a handful of healthy nuts twice a week, such as almonds, walnuts, or Brazil nuts. Men who do this slash their risk of suddenly dying from a heart attack by almost half. Why? It's all about the good fats.

What makes nuts such heart-healthy snacks? Monounsaturated fats -- those good-for-you fats that lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL, which helps keep your arteries clean and clog-free. Nuts are full of good fats, as are olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and flaxseed. In a study, men who nibbled on healthy nuts at least twice a week had a 46% lower chance of dying from an out-of-the-blue heart attack than men who rarely or never ate nuts.

The only caveat: Nuts are high in calories -- although other studies have found that, thanks to a happy quirk of digestive chemistry, the body doesn't absorb all the calories in healthy nuts. Still, if weight loss is a goal, substitute nuts for other snacks rather than just adding them to your daily diet. A little goes a long way: It only takes a small handful, the rough equivalent of a 1-ounce serving, to protect your ticker.

Medically reviewed in March 2019.

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