Spring is finally here in New England! Though not every day is warm enough or dry enough for bicycling, we’re able to get out more often than “once in a while”. Saturday was one of those days. Temperatures were in the low 50’s and rain threatened for the second half of the afternoon. After giving the morning a bit of time to warm up we set out on our bicycles around 11:00 AM. My husband is always the navigator. With a pretty good northeast wind he chose a route heading north for the first few miles. We rode a 29 mile loop that, for the most part, wasn’t into a headwind. With a coffee stop at the halfway point we got back around 2:45, just as it started to sprinkle. My average speed wasn’t my best but that will improve once I’m on the bike regularly. I’m looking forward to warmer days so I can start riding to work. I’m thinking in about a month I’ll be able to do just that.
Only four months until the 2014 Pan Massachusetts Challenge. This 192 mile, 2 day bike a thon takes place every year on the first weekend in August. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million for cancer care and research at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute through it’s Jimmy Fund. One hundred percent of the money raised by riders goes straight to DFCI. I personally have set a goal to raise $10,000. I feel confidant that I can attain this goal. Would you consider helping me? Online donations can be made here http://www2.pmc.org/profile/JS0126. You can also text to give by texting JS0126 to 20222. You’ll get a confirmation text to which you will have to reply to in order for the donation to be processed. A $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill. You can do this up to 5 times from the same phone. If you’d like to know more about the PMC and it’s work, check it out at http://www.pmc.org.
So, about nuts. It seems that eating nuts is good for your heart. They contain many compounds that promote heart health:
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the “good” fats – lower bad cholesterol levels
- Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.
- Fiber – All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less.
- Vitamin E – helps stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them.
- Plant sterols – Some nuts contain plant sterols, which can help lower your cholesterol. These are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
- L-arginine – a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.
Something to keep in mind is that nuts are as much as 80% fat. Though it’s the healthy type of fat, nuts do pack a lot of calories. The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted nuts a week. Raw or dry roasted are better than those cooked in oil. A serving is a small handful, 1.5 oz., of whole nuts. But again, do this as part of a heart-healthy diet. Just eating nuts and not cutting back on saturated fats found in many dairy and meat products won’t do your heart any good.
Does it matter what kind of nuts you eat? Most nuts appear to be generally healthy, though some more so than others. Walnuts contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy. Peanuts – which are technically not a nut but are actually legume – like beans, seem to be relatively healthy. Keep in mind you could end up canceling out the heart-healthy benefits of nuts if they’re covered with chocolate, sugar or salt.
Thanks for reading my blog and have a happy, healthy week!