Sometimes it is the simplest things which can make the biggest difference – like eating a handful of nuts each week. New research published this week revealed that eating 28g of nuts each week can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 23%. I got the kitchen scales out to weigh 28g of walnuts – it’s quite a large handful (of my little hands, anyway) and provides nearly 200 calories, so adding that amount of nuts to your diet requires some thought. But could well be worth it.
Researchers from Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health looked a several large-scale studies which tracked participants’ food intake, and compared the data to the number of heart attacks and strokes the participants suffered. Bottom line: the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Walnuts came out of the study particularly well: eating them two or three times a week led to a 19% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease. The editorial accompanying the study opined, ‘raw nuts, if possible unpeeled and otherwise unprocessed, may be considered as natural health capsules that can be easily incorporated into any heart-protective diet to further cardiovascular well-being and promote healthy aging.’ Which sounds pretty good to us!
Annabel and I love nuts – they’ve become an important part of our age-well journey and feature heavily in recipes on the blog. These are some of our old faves:
Christmas granola (which also makes a great gift, packed into pretty jars)
And here’s a new favourite, inspired by www.pinchofyum.com, the sort of hearty chilli that meat eaters don’t notice is vegan. It’s a real all-in-one dish with grains, legumes, nuts and veg all cooked together, so all you need to add are some toppings. Unlike most plant-based recipes, there is very little peeling and chopping which is always a bonus for busy people, so don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. The heart-healthy walnuts give a fantastic texture as well as a huge nutritional boost.
WALNUT ONE-POT CHILLI (serves 4 – I make double and freeze half – it freezes really well)
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove of garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp of cumin
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp chipotle paste (or to taste)
- additional chilli to taste – my family really don’t like too much chilli but feel free to add fresh or dried chillis/chilli powder
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 100g red lentils
- 100g quinoa
- 100g roughly crushed walnuts
- 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained, soaking liquid reserved
- 200g tinned pumpkin puree
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and gently saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook. Add all the spices, and turn in the oil before adding the tomatoes. Rinse out the tin with 400g of water and add to the saucepan as well, along with the reserved liquid from the kidney beans. Crumble in the vegetable stock cube. Bring to a gentle boil and add lentils, quinoa and walnuts. Simmer for 18-20 minutes, adding a little more water (around 100ml) if it looks dry. When the lentils and quinoa are tender, stir in the kidney beans, pumpkin puree and spinach. It’s ready as soon as the spinach has wilted. Taste and season well, adding salt and chilli as needed.