Sometimes it can seem like science has it out for you. Like when it’s revealed that one of your favorite foods is bad for you. Or researchers suddenly announce one of your regular habits could be harming your health.
But every once in a while a study comes along that makes you feel like dancing. And some new research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is just such a study.
It turns out a delicious snack you probably already have in your pantry could be the key to keeping your ticker in top shape.
Boost heart health with a handful of nuts
According to the team of researchers from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, eating a fistful of nuts every day can boost your heart health.1
The incredible long-term project crunched the data from over 210,000 folks in three huge studies for 32 years. The researchers used regular questionnaires to track volunteers’ medical history, lifestyle habits and food frequency.
Over the three plus decades, more than 14,100 incidents of heart problems and 8,300 cases of coronary heart disease were recorded.
But to everyone’s surprise (well, but ours) when they bounced food frequency up against cases of heart disease, nuts were a clear winner. The more nuts the volunteers ate the lower their risk of developing heart problems was.
Walnuts protect heart health slash heart disease risk
And while regularly munching on any kinds of nuts appeared to guard heart health, one nut in particular turned out to be a real rock star. The folks who ate walnuts two to three times a week were nearly…
- 20 percent less likely to have a heart event such as a heart attack
- 21 percent less likely to develop heart disease
Keep in mind this was an observational study, which means it doesn’t prove cause and effect. But there’s plenty of smoke here to declare there’s a fire.
Of course, if you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader you already know nuts are terrific for your health. And that they’re tops for your heart in particular.
Reduce small, dense and dangerous LDL with nuts
Nuts contain over a dozen nutrients that support heart health.
For example, they’re brimming with heart-friendly unsaturated fats and vitamin E. And they contain unique phytochemicals and nutrients, such as polyphenols and arginine, which protect against inflammation in your blood vessels.
The plant protein and sterols in nuts can help lower LDL cholesterol, leaving less of it to become oxidized and dangerous. And at the same time they boost HDL or “good” cholesterol, which escorts LDL to your liver where it’s eliminated.2,3
In fact, according to Healthier Talk contributor Dr. Glenn Rothfeld eating just a small handful of almonds daily can boost your HDL by an incredible 19 percent in six short weeks.4
Plus nuts are high in omega-3s and generally lower in carbs. Which means they can help reduce the number of small dense LDL particles which damage the delicate endothelial cells lining your blood vessels and raise your risk of heart disease.5
Walnuts in particular have some unique heart benefits. Prior research has revealed they have the ability to reduce c-reactive protein and harmful plaques, two markers of blood vessel inflammation.
In other words, they improve the function of your blood vessels making them more elastic. This allows better blood flow and lower blood pressure.6
Growing stack of research proves nuts support heart health
The new Harvard study isn’t the first to support including nuts in our diet to protect our heart health, of course.
In fact, a growing stack of research has found eating nuts to be beneficial including…
- A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association which found dieters who at 30 almonds daily lost 62 percent more weight than a control group. They dropped belly fat and had their LDL and total cholesterol levels drop too.7
- A study published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology that found getting up to 20 percent of your daily calories from pistachios doesn’t cause weight gain, and improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels.8
- A review published in the journal BMC Medicine which concluding eating nuts regularly could send your heart disease risk plummeting by up to 30 percent.9
And the list goes on and on, but you get the idea. This time science is firmly on the side of your palate. Nuts and hearts make a terrific team. So go ahead and make them a regular part of your routine.
1. “Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 70, Issue 20, 14–21 November 2017, Pages 2519-2532
2. “Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of epidemiologic evidence.” Curr Atheroscler Rep. 1999 Nov; 1(3): 204-9
3. “A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans.” J Nutr. 2005; 135(9): 2082-9
4. “Inclusion of Almonds in a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Improves Plasma HDL Subspecies and Cholesterol Efflux to Serum in Normal-Weight Individuals with Elevated LDL Cholesterol.” The Journal of Nutrition, 2017; 147 (8): 1517
5. “Combined effects of a dietary portfolio of plant sterols, vegetable protein, viscous fiber and almonds on LDL particle size. “ Br J Nutr. 2004: 92(4):654-63
6. “A walnut diet improves endothelial function in hypercholesterolemic subjects: a randomized crossover trial.” Circulation. 2004; 109(13):1609-14
7. “Effects of Daily Almond Consumption on Cardiometabolic Risk and Abdominal Adiposity in Healthy Adults With Elevated LDL‐Cholesterol: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of the American Heart Association, January 2015, Volume 4, Issue 1
8. “Effects of pistachio consumption on body composition and blood lipids in healthy young women,” The FASEB Journal, April 2014, vol. 28 no. 1 Supplement 640.6
9. “Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies,” BMC Medicine, 201614:207
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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