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Seniors go nuts for a new year and a new, healthier you

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You've made resolutions to be healthier, live longer and maybe lost some weight, but really, who keeps resolutions? Not many. So what’s a little anti-aging nosh among friends? Lose the doughnuts and go nuts for a healthier, longer life.

Who knew that NUTS, of all things, could not only satisfy your cravings but are also good for you? Eating well doesn’t have to mean sacrificing taste. Nuts are a nutrient-rich grab-and-go snack, and they're tasty, too.

Eating nuts is heart-healthy and can help prevent a mélange of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and obesity, especially for the over 50 crowd. Furthermore, nuts have been shown to be healthy with regards to weight loss, sleep enhancement, memory enhancement, immune system efficiency and skin clarity, all assets and positive avenues toward living a longer, healthier life.

Snacking on as little as one ounce of mixed nuts daily, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study, showed that there is a 20% less likely chance of dying from heart disease, cancer, or other illnesses. In other words, it may be the difference of living to your 80s vs living to your 90s. Don't you want to live to see your grandchildren get married?

Why nuts? It’s their inherent anti-aging nutrients

Nuts of all kinds are a veritable fountain of youth, loaded with anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy nutrients. High in protein, nuts have also been found to be one of the best sources of alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Nuts are also known to contain fiber, protein and vitamins. That means they help promote blood flow, which in turn allows for efficient delivery of oxygen to the brain. Eating raw nuts vs. roasted, etc. increases the benefits, but go easy, because while nuts may be rich in nutrients, some are also rich in calories. Generally, shelled nuts contain less calories than unshelled.

Check out these nutty benefits:

1. Almonds – In addition to all the nutritional benefits of other nuts, almonds contain fewer calories yet have the highest amount of healthy vegetable protein, calcium and a large dose of vitamin E, which boosts memory and may reduce cognitive decline.

2. Brazil Nuts –These super nuts are nutrient-packed with antioxidants that fight illness and assist in new skin production. They may also aid in fighting prostate cancer. (Hear that men?)

3. Peanuts – In addition to the same antioxidants found in wine and chocolate (you had me at wine and chocolate), peanuts help slow aging and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are also known to contain folic acid and vitamin E for improved brain health. Peanut butter takes no back seat to the real raw deal. In fact, if you use a spread with no added sugar, it is as rich in vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese as the raw peanuts. (Adding Nutella adds calories but enhances the flavor beyond the beyond -- just saying.)

4. Pecans – Aside from their delicious benefits when used in pies, pecans are especially high in beta-sitosterol, which can help with prostate health and reduce prostate and urinary symptoms in older men. Pecans are denser in fat and calories than most other nuts, but eaten in moderation (preferably raw) they are equally as nutritious as other nuts.

5. Pine Nuts -- A nutrient-rich tree nut that can significantly help lower bad LDL cholesterol and rich in manganese, a powerful antioxidant, pine nuts are a great addition to salads and often used as an ingredient in pesto sauce.

6. Pistachios -- Usually shelled before eating, pistachios are generally lower in calories than most nuts. They are said to assist in digestion and boost your arterial health and potentially reduce heart attack and stroke risk because they contain l-arginine, which can make the lining of your arteries more flexible.

7. Walnuts – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which significantly boost memory and recall, walnuts are said to also reduce inflammation and promote more relaxed, dilated blood vessels, which can reduce risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and make your blood less likely to clot.

So get healthy and go nuts for the health of it: on salads, in yogurt, baked in crusts and bread crumbs, and for your grab and go snacks.

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