Many of the culinary delicacies we tend to enjoy on Valentine’s Day—including dark chocolate, berries, seafood, and red wine—do in fact benefit your heart.
But there are two other overlooked foods that make a perfect addition to any Valentine’s Day meal.
The best part? They’re great for your heart and your sexual health!
In fact, they’re SO nutritious, you really should keep them on the menu year-round…
Nuts and seeds help your heart (and “enhance the mood”)
I regularly report on the importance of getting plenty of the omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) into your diet. You find these essential nutrients abundantly in eggs, meat, and seafood.
But there’s another type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid (ALA) that’s also important. And it’s found abundantly in two health foods: nuts and seeds.
In fact, a particularly strong analysis on ALA highlighted its effect on all-cause mortality (risk of death from any cause) and cardiovascular diseases, specifically.
For this analysis, an international team of researchers looked at 41 previously published studies that involved about 120,000 participants (ages 18 to 98 years). The studies lasted anywhere from at least two years to as long as 32 years. And they included data on ALA intake from foods, alcohol consumption, body weight, and physical activity levels.
After carefully compiling the results from each study, the researchers found that people who consumed more foods with ALA had a:
- 10 percent lower risk for dying from ANY cause.
- 8 percent lower risk of dying from ANY type of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack or stroke.
- 11 percent lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease, specifically.
In addition, the research showed a strong dose-response effect. In other words, the more foods with ALA that the people consumed…the lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Specifically, for each additional 1 gram of ALA consumed per day, a person had a 5 percent reduction in dying from cardiovascular disease. (As a reference point, just one handful of walnuts contains about 2.5 grams of ALA. So, 1 gram isn’t even half a handful of nuts!)
Of course, the ALA in nuts (and seeds) doesn’t just help your heart…
Studies show that enjoying a handful of any type of tree nut each day (such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts) can also help ward off Type II diabetes. And walnuts, in particular, seem to help support cognitive health, as well. Some literature even suggests that nuts and seeds act as aphrodisiacs. And that’s certainly appropriate for the season!
Almonds and cashews, in particular, contain lots of magnesium and zinc, which support blood flow, including to sexual organs. (This mechanism helps people feel somewhat more aroused and experience greater pleasure.) Plus, walnuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds contain arginine, a nutrient that’s used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
It makes a lot of sense to me that nuts (and seeds) do so many good things for the body. After all, botanically, they’re both just seeds…from which the whole plant grows.
In the end, I hope you’ll find a way to add a handful of nuts (and/or seeds) to your daily diet. I always recommend opting for organic nuts (and seeds), which I understand can be pricey, depending on where you shop.
If price is a concern for you, opt for peanuts, which offer similar benefits as tree nuts. Just make sure you buy plain peanuts, without added artificial ingredients. (You should also skip commercial peanut butter, which typically has added sugars and other artificial ingredients.)
And next week, on Valentine’s Day, maybe add some chopped nuts and seeds, along with some goat cheese and berries, to a nice, fresh, green salad. It’s an easy way to get these healthy, essential fats into your meal. And they may even help you “enhance the mood” as you break out some healthy, dark chocolate.