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If you eat a typical fast-food meal cooked with corn oil or another processed fat, your arteries may stiffen right after eating. But a tasty side dish can help them work better and improve your heart health.
All you have to do is grab a handful of peanuts.
A study at Penn State University shows that peanuts help artery walls stay more flexible and also lower your blood fats after you eat a fatty meal.
The Penn State researchers performed their experiment on 15 overweight young men who had their blood analyzed and their artery function evaluated before and after eating fatty foods.
Without peanuts, the scientists found that the men’s arteries were less able to relax and let blood flow smoothly than when they had peanuts with their meal. The researchers warn that the type of arterial “dysfunction” these meals cause can lead to atherosclerosis, the formation of blockages in the arteries feeding the heart and lesions in blood vessels.
“Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than 2 times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” says researcher Xiaoran Liu. “This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”
You could have a 35 percent lower risk, in fact.
The blood tests also showed that having peanuts reduced the triglycerides – blood fats – produced in the men’s blood after eating. High levels of triglycerides have also been linked to heart disease.
Of course, you should stay off fast-food as much as possible. But when temptation takes over, a peanut snack may help your arteries avoid coronary complications.
What is it about peanuts that fights heart disease? One study from Columbia University shows that nuts and seeds reduce C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and fibrinogen, all markers of inflammation indicating the beginnings of heart disease.