A handful of nuts a day keeps heart disease at bay

If you want to continue the year in a healthy way, put out a bowl of mixed nuts on the table every day… because it might just spare you a heart disease diagnosis down the road.

That’s the conclusion of a recent analysis of data from nearly a quarter million men and women — including some from the famous Nurses’ Health Studies and Health Professionals Follow Up Study.

Over more than 30 years of follow up, researchers documented nearly 28,500 cases of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke. They also discovered that higher total nut consumption consistently translated to lower risk.

Subjects who ate walnuts at least once a week had a 19 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Eating peanuts or tree nuts twice or more weekly, meanwhile, was linked to risk reductions ranging from 13 to 23 per cent.

Five or more servings of nuts weekly was linked to a 14 per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, and a 20 per cent reduction in coronary heart disease risk. And these results were similar whether subjects were eating tree nuts, peanuts, or walnuts.

This study didn’t find a link between total nut consumption and stroke. But it did observe a positive association between stroke risk and both peanut and walnut consumption, individually.

Nuts are packed with beneficial fatty acids that slash inflammation and mop up free radicals. Not only that, but they’re also rich in fat, which helps to satisfy hunger for longer periods of time. They’ve been a mainstay of my nutritional recommendations for as long as I’ve been practising medicine.

So I can’t say these findings came as a surprise. But I wish someone would send a memo to all those “experts” in the medical establishment who are still warning the public to eat high-fat snacks like nuts only “sparingly.”

It’s a real shame. Because as this study shows, whether it’s peanuts, walnuts, or my personal favourite, macadamia nuts, well… the more the merrier.

To your good health,

Fred Pescatore, M.D.
Contributing Editor