If your snack attacks have you craving something crunchy, do your arteries a favor and munch on pumpkin seeds.
Or sunflower seeds. Or sesame seeds. Or nuts for that matter. According to Dr. Janice Stanger, author of The Perfect Formula Diet, seeds and nuts rule when it comes to quelling artery-damaging, disease-triggering inflammation.
A slew of medical studies supports the claim and shows how crunchy nuts and seeds lower levels of two inflammatory markers -- C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Having low inflammatory markers is super desirable if you want to sidestep heart disease and diabetes. Research also shows that seeds and nuts can increase blood levels of adiponectin -- a hormone that helps keep blood vessel inflammation in check. (Find out why sunflower seeds are so great for your brain.)
Whole and Healthy
What sets seeds and nuts apart from other snack foods? For starters, they are a whole food -- which means much of the nutritional value remains intact. And seeds and nuts have plenty to offer in that department. We're talking vitamin E, fiber, protein, healthful fats -- the whole shebang. And vitamin E may be particularly important when it comes to thwarting inflammatory damage to blood vessels. (Did you know? Sesame seeds have special powers. Find out what they do to cholesterol.)
How's Your Heart Health? Get a quick snapshot of how healthy your heart is with this quiz.
To eat healthy, pick foods that are the colors of the rainbow, and watch your portion sizes. Eating foods that are colorful-red apples, orange carrots, yellow squash, green salad, tomatoes, blueberries and purple eggplant-helps yo...u add fruits and vegetables to your diet. More