According to a new study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, nut usage has an impact on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Nuts are quite nutritious. This is a well-established fact that is supported by an increasing number of studies. With just 20 g of nuts each day, the risk of developing diabetes is reduced by 40%, and the chance of contracting infectious diseases is reduced by 75%.
Other research has suggested eating nuts can help us retain our memories and possibly improve our intelligence.
What, on the other hand, might nuts do for our cardiovascular system? According to Marta Guasch-Ferré, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, the new study investigates the relationship between nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Additional to that, and in contrast to prior research on the subject, this study investigates the effects of specific types of nuts on cardiovascular health.
Investigating nut consumption and heart health
Guasch-Ferré and her colleagues studied more than 210,000 people, using data from the Nurses’ Health Study I and II, as well as the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, to determine the relationship between nut consumption and heart health.
Over the course of 32 years, they studied the participants’ medical and lifestyle information, which was obtained every two years using self-administered questionnaires, to see how they changed.
Every four years, the researchers were able to gather information about the subjects’ nut consumption through food frequency questionnaires.
The researchers concentrated their efforts on serious cardiovascular disease, which was defined as myocardial infarction, stroke, or fatal cardiovascular disease by the American Heart Association. In addition, they looked at the total incidence of coronary heart disease, which was defined as fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction, as well as the total incidence of stroke, which might be fatal or non-fatal, in the population.
Researchers discovered 14,136 cases of cardiovascular disease during the study period, with 8,390 cases of coronary heart disease and 5,910 cases of stroke being reported.
Nuts lower the chance of developing cardiovascular disease
The researchers discovered that total nut consumption and total cardiovascular and coronary heart disease risk were inversely associated. As a result, the more nuts a person consumes, the lower his or her risk of acquiring these illnesses is.
A more in-depth study at individual types of nut indicated that walnuts are particularly beneficial to cardiovascular health, according to the researchers.
When walnuts are consumed two to three times a week, it has been shown that cardiovascular risk is reduced by 19 percent and coronary heart disease risk is reduced by 21 percent.
Eating peanuts at least twice a week was shown to be associated with a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, while eating tree nuts was found to be associated with a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Peanut consumption was also associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, while tree nut consumption was associated with a 23% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.
It has been found that eating five or more servings of nuts per week is associated with a 14 percent reduction in cardiovascular risk and a 20 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.
Researchers found that higher consumption of total and specific types of nuts was negatively linked with overall cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease in three major prospective cohort studies, the study authors write.
Raw nuts as natural health capsules
The findings of this study support the advice to increase the intake of a variety of nuts as part of a balanced dietary pattern in order to minimise the risk of chronic disease in the general population, according to Guasch-findings. Ferré’s
She and her colleagues also point out certain limitations to their research. In this study, the participants were limited to health professionals, the majority of whom were white, and the technique of collecting data was self-reported, which is always prone to inaccuracies.
In their judgement, there is no reason why the findings would not be applicable to people of various ethnicities, as the authors point out in their paper.
Dr. Emilio Ros, of the Endocrinology and Nutrition service at the Hospital Clnic in Barcelona, Spain, authored an accompanying editorial in which he discusses the relevance of the findings and provides further information.
As he puts it, “future trials should assess the effects of long-term consumption of nuts supplemented into the regular diet on hard cardiometabolic events in the ideal scenario.”
“In the meantime, 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.”
Dr. Emilio Ros