Banana, oat and walnut “Silky”: a CardioKit recipe

Eat nuts . . . live longer (and say ‘nuts!’ to the low-fat diet)

Want the health benefit of oats but don’t like porridge  –  this super-fast breakfast is the one for you with the added health boost of nuts.

Don’t like porridge? Skip breakfast? Too busy? Not hungry? Then this “silky” is definitely for you! The only snag is that you need a blender or preferably one of the new generation ‘emulsifiers’ such as the NutriBullet or NutriNinja. These emulsifiers are not essential but you will find that traditional blenders will occasionally leave chunks whereas the new generation emulsifiers are guaranteed to blend your mix into a beautiful silky double-cream consistency (hence the name). You won’t even know that it contains oats. The bonus — you can put this together and finish your breakfast in under 2 minutes. Perfect for rushed weekday mornings. No more excuses.

Obviously there are lots of variations on this theme but this particular ‘Silky’ is a ‘Cooking Cardiologist’ favourite and packed with some impressive cardiovascular ingredients. We have talked about the blood pressure effects of potassium (bananas) and health benefits of oats previously. Therefore for this recipe the focus will be the walnuts and nuts in general.

Nuts are pretty spectacular when it comes to health and the results in repeated and large-scale studies are consistently impressive. Despite being high in fat, regular and increased nut consumption is associated with less weight gain, reduced waist circumference and reduced risk of obesity. A handful of nuts each day has been shown to reduce blood sugar without any increase in body weight in diabetic patients.

Amazingly the frequency of nut consumption appears to be inversely associated with total mortality (i.e. the more nuts you eat, the lower your risk of dying from diseases). This has been observed in the Nurses Health Study (76500 women between 1980–2010) and Health Professional follow-up study (42500 men between 1986–2010). Overall, the daily nut-eaters were 20% less likely to have died during the course of the study than those who avoided nuts.

Another recent, impressive and high-quality study  – The PREDIMED Study – included 7400 ‘high-risk’ individuals (e.g. with high blood pressure and diabetes) and compared a ‘low fat’ diet to a ‘Mediterranean’ diet supplemented with nuts and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet group had a 30% reduction in stroke, heart attack and death. Phenomenal data  –  in a ‘nutshell’, eat a handful of nuts a day and live longer!

Nuts are rich in nutrients including healthy unsaturated fats, fibre and plant sterols (the same stuff used in Benecol). The beneficial effects on your cholesterol profile are likely to be only one mechanism for the observed health benefits. A final caveat  –  when we talk about healthy nuts, we are referring to unrefined and pure nuts (not covered in salt or sugar).

Per single Silky serving:

 

  • 1 banana  –  use a super-ripe banana to add natural sweetness to your Silky. In fact this is perfect for any bananas which you think have gone beyond the threshold for normal eating  - you can even store them in the freezer at this stage and blend straight from frozen
  • a handful of walnuts
  • 2-3 heaped spoons of porridge oats
  • 2/3 glass of semi-skimmed milk  – you can also experiment with skimmed milk (fewer calories). Unsweetened soy milk and almond milk work well for a dairy free version and conceptually have added health benefits for a super-version
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (if you like the flavour)  –  a natural ‘sweetener’
  • Optional drizzle of honey  –  if your bananas are ripe you do not need this
  • We love it with one added date (Medjool are the best easily available in the UK)

Blend the ingredients together until you have a silky texture and enjoy. You can try adding different dried fruits like prunes (for a fibre kick) but need to adjust the solids to liquid ratio to maintain the consistency  – you don’t want it too thick. Berries and seeds also work well  –  try adding frozen berries straight from the freezer.

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