Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Health Benefits of Seeds, Nuts, Fish and Oils

Author: Scott Meyers

Sunflower seeds are not just fun to eat; they are also very nutritious to the body. While sunflower seeds contain approximately the same amount of polyunsaturated fats as their counterpart nuts, they are much richer in antioxidants that ward off cancer, cataracts and heart disease. Sunflower seeds are also high in vitamin E content. It has been shown by research studies that consuming high amounts, which is to say in the area of 100 IU (the RDA is presently at 15 IU on a daily basis) of vitamin E on a daily basis helps to cut the risk of developing heart disease by approximately 40 percent.

Fish and fish oils contain the very important omega 3 fatty acids that the body requires to help lower the blood fats, and in particular triglycerides. It is believed that high amounts of triglycerides in the blood are more dangerous for females than they are for males. Eating regular portions of fish is also beneficial for lowering blood pressure and for easing many of the discomforts that arthritis brings with it. The fish highest in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, blue fish, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and lake trout. It is recommended that an individual eat two to three servings of fish per week. It is not recommended that you start taking fish oil supplements unless you first discuss it with your physician.

Nuts are very good for the heart. In particular, walnuts have been found to lower levels of bad cholesterol a great deal. By getting rid of saturated fats in the diet and instead substituting polyunsaturated fats that are contained in nuts you can do a great deal of good for your heart. Nuts, listed in order of those containing the highest levels of monounsaturated fatty acids to the least include macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pine nuts and walnuts.

Olive oil is very rich monounsaturated fat, which helps to decrease the level of cholesterol in the blood. Olive oil is a mainstay of those living in the Mediterranean region. Oliver oil can be purchased in regular, light tasting, virgin and extra virgin. If you do not particularly like the taste of olive oil then reach for canola oil as it contains plenty of monounsaturated fats and is low in saturated fat content. Other types of oils that are healthiest because of their monounsaturated fats include flaxseed oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, grape seed oil, soybean oil and walnut oil. If you want to decrease your bad cholesterol (LDL) by anywhere from seven to ten percent then substitute either olive oil or canola oil fro butter or margarine (more so if you are replacing butter which contains more fat than margarine). Be aware however that all oils have at least 144 grams of fat, not to mention 120 calories for every tablespoon.

Flaxseed oil is another oil that is beneficial for health. This type of oil comes the flax plant and is an "oilseed." Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as lignans. Eating a diet rich in lignans helps to decrease the risk of developing many different kinds of cancers, not to mention osteoporosis and circulatory disease.

Seeds, nuts, fish and oils have many health benefits and if you are looking to live a healthier life they should become a staple in your diet.

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About the Author:
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Food Cures.

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