05 September 2019

How eating raw nuts could lower your risk of fatal heart attacks and strokes

Research has shown that eating nuts twice a week is associated with a 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

It has been scientifically proven that just 60g of nuts can improve sexual function and that nuts have a positive effect on cholesterol.

To add to the list of benefits, research presented at the ESC Congress 2019 has revealed that eating nuts twice a week is associated with a 17% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. 

Food frequency questionnaire

The study looked at the link between nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular death and disease in the Iranian population. 5 432 adults who were 35 and older and who had no history of cardiovascular disease were selected randomly from both urban and rural areas of Isfahan, Arak and Najafabad.

The intake of nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios and seeds were assessed in 2001 by means of a food frequency questionnaire. Every two years until 2013, participants were interviewed for the occurrence of cardiovascular events and death. The outcomes investigated included:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Total cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Death from cardiovascular disease
  • Death from any cause

A median 12 year follow up concluded that there were 751 cardiovascular events, of which, 594 were coronary heart disease and 157 were strokes. There were also 179 cardiovascular deaths and 458 all-cause deaths. Eating nuts twice a week or more was associated with a 17% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality in comparison to eating nuts once every two weeks.

Even after adjusting factors which could have influenced the relationship such as age, sex, education, smoking and physical activity, the connection was still robust. Nuts were inversely associated with other outcomes, but that proved to be insignificant after adjustments.

Dr Noushin Mohammadifard, study author from Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute in Iran said, "Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fat and contain little saturated fat. They also have protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre, phytosterols and polyphenols which benefit heart health."

According to ESC guidelines, 30g of unsalted nuts per day is listed as one of the characteristics of a healthy diet, and the energy density of nuts is high. "Raw and fresh nuts are the healthiest," Dr Mohammadifard added. "Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidised in stale nuts, making them harmful. You can tell if nuts are rancid by their paint-like smell and bitter or sour taste."

Image credit: iStock 


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