Nuts Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Nuts sometimes get a bad rep for being high in calories and fat. People watching their waistline sometimes skimp on nuts. Research, however, suggests that despite the fat content and high calories, nuts can be lifesaving.

Three large prospective studies examined the consumption of nuts in 210,836 men and women. The study focused on the type and amount of nuts consumed with food frequency questionnaires that were updated every four years for 33 years from 1980 to 2013.

There were 5910 cases of stroke and 8390 cases of coronary heart disease among the research subjects. After controlling for related risk factors such as smoking, history of heart disease in the family, hypertension, it was found that people who consumed nuts had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. In other words, more nuts meant lower risk. It was found that people who consumed less than one 1 ounce serving of nuts per week lowered their risk of stroke and heart attack by 9% and their risk of developing coronary heart disease by 12% and those eating at least one 1 ounce serving five days a week lowered their risk of stroke and heart attack and coronary heart disease by 14% and 20% respectively.

Another study published in the Journal of The American College of Cardiology reported a similar relationship between consumption of all types of nuts and reduction in risk for developing these conditions.

So what is it that makes nuts so healthy and should we jump on the nut train already?

Well, most nuts are packed with muscle building proteins, constipation busting and cholesterol-lowering fiber, healthy fatty acids such as Omega-3s and blood arteries protecting sterols, L-arginine and Vitamin E.

“Nuts have a unique nutritional composition, high in unsaturated fats, fiber, and minerals,” said the lead author, Marta Guasch-Ferr?, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “They should be included as part of a healthy diet.”

The only downside to eating nuts is that they do account for a significant amount of calories and this can be a hurdle for those who are on a calorie-restricting diet. Nuts are also not an option for people who are allergic to them. But study findings do indicate that whenever possible, one should try to substitute nuts for other snacks. For example, opting for a handful of nuts may be a better idea as compared to eating one or two chocolate chip cookies or a bag of potato chips.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.