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The snack your heart loves that boosts your ‘happy’ hormone
The way you snack can make or break your health.
Reach for sugary sweets or salty chips (when no one can eat just one!) and both your waistline and your health suffer. But giving up snacking completely is just so hard…
Don’t worry. If you need a little something to hold you over til lunch or supper, there’s one snack that hits so many health marks — if you’re not snacking on it daily, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Especially now that research has found it can give your “happy hormone” a huge boost…
Cardioprotection and a mood boost to boot
Nuts have a reputation as a healthy snack that’s been secured by mountains of research — especially for how it affects cardiovascular health.
Previous research from a team of scientists at UCLA found that eating just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day, instead of pretzels, for a period of just 24 weeks resulted in serious benefits, including:
- Increased satiety (feelings of fullness that keep you from overeating and packing on weight that harms your heart)
- Enhanced weight loss for better overall health
- Decreased blood pressure and heart rate, indicated less stress and strain on the organ
So those researchers decided to take it a step further and look for the origin of those benefits — benefits they believed had to do with the tryptophan nuts deliver.
Yup, you read that right…
The same compound found in that Thanksgiving turkey that makes us fall asleep on the couch after dinner is also found in nuts, like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
And it’s believed to play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular problems, by creating metabolites in the gut that regulate the immune system and keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.
Related Reading: How to get your pleasure hormone back
To test their theory, the team collected blood and stool samples from 95 overweight or obese participants who switched from unhealthy snacks to a daily dose of mixed nuts.
Sure enough, eating nuts resulted in an impressive increase in cardioprotective tryptophan metabolites. But what the researchers weren’t expecting was an increase in the “happiness hormone,” serotonin.
The team found that blood serotonin levels went up by 60.9 percent at 12 weeks and an incredible 82.2 percent at 24 weeks.
“This is the first time we’ve seen mixed tree nut consumption associated with an increase in serotonin levels in the body,” explained lead researcher, Zhaoping Li, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at UCLA. “While more research is needed, this is exciting since serotonin can have an important impact on mood and overall mental health.”
In other words, if you want to protect your heart and grab a big dose of the happy hormone, one snack a day of nuts is the way to go.
The nutty benefits keep coming
Because depression and heart problems can often go hand in hand, eating more nuts just makes sense. But the benefits you can grab from eating nuts don’t stop there.
Eating nuts can also help you:
- Eating nuts could lower your risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation (AFib), an abnormality of your heart rhythm that can dramatically increase your risk of stroke.
- A review of studies found that snacking on tree nuts also reduces HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) a substance in the blood that indicates blood sugar trouble.
- A massive study of almost 290,000 participants found that people who increased the amount of nuts they ate as they got older gained less weight and were less likely to become obese over those 20 years.
So don’t wait — grab a handful and start enjoying them right away!
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!
New study shows snacking on mixed tree nuts may impact cardiovascular risk factors and increase serotonin — EurekAlert!