Tree Nuts Can Reduce Risks for Heart Related Conditions

New research out of the Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health is bringing new meaning to the term, “health nut.” You see, this study has found that adding nuts to your diet could actually lower your risk for heart attack and stroke, and perhaps by a significant amount. The study was actually intended to see if nut consumption could help those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes; but positive results are always welcome, even if it is a bit unexpected.

For this study, the researchers examined more than 16,000 adults with diabetes who had participated in a previous health study. These subjects were given questionnaires about their diets, asking specifically bout tree nut and peanut consumption; updating these answers every two to four years. 

In the follow-up session they found about 3,330 cases of cardiovascular disease. This condition is commonly known to lead to heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.  The follow-up session also found approximately 5,600 deaths and, more importantly almost 30 percent of these deaths were caused specifically by cardiovascular disease. 

But on top of this, further analysis found that higher levels of nut consumption could be linked with lower risk for cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.  As a matter of fact, diabetics who increased nut consumption to five or more servings per week were 17 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, versus those who fewer than one serving of nuts per week. 

For the purpose of the study, 1 oz of nuts is considered a serving.  And even a single serving of nuts, consumed consistently, was shown to have some health benefits.  The study showed that just 1 oz (or one serving) could reduce risk for cardiac conditions by 3 percent; and reduce risk for heart-related mortality by 6 percent.

Lead study author Gang Liu celebrates, “Our findings provide new evidence that supports the recommendation of including nuts in healthy dietary patterns for the prevention of cardiovascular disease complications and premature deaths among individuals with diabetes.”

And, in case you are wondering, the team suggests that any tree nuts can provide benefit.  Essentially, then, mixed nuts are good for you—almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts—can all help reduce heart disease risk. Notice that peanuts are not listed: while they may provide some health benefit, peanuts are not a tree nut (they are a legume).  But tree nuts also have higher concentrations of nutrients that improve blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, fat metabolism, and inflammation. 

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