An apple a day might keep the doctor away — or so the saying goes — but so might a handful a nuts. A new study suggests they can reduce your risk of heart disease.
The journal BMC Medicine published the study, which examined the link between nut consumption and heart disease. Nuts have long been linked to promoting a healthy heart, but this group of researchers took the study a step further. Researchers wanted to understand if nuts helped ward off cancer and mortality from certain causes.
The results showed that consuming 20 grams of nuts per day could reduce the risk of coronary or cardiovascular heart disease by up to 30 percent in individuals, with or without a history of heart-related ailments.
More than 25 different studies on this subject were taken into account when recording these findings, which included participants located all over the world. Over 800,000 people participated in these studies, with many of them reporting a history of heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The results showed a clear improvement in heart health for participants. The strongest benefit was found in those who ate a serving of nuts daily, compared to those who did not eat nuts.
Cancer risk was reduced by 15 percent in these participants, as well as a 22 percent lower risk of mortality due to a related cause. Risk of dying from respiratory disease and diabetes also decreased dramatically, with a 50 percent decline and a 40 percent decline, respectively.
The study found that one serving of nuts a day does the trick. The research showed that no more is necessary, as participants who ate more than one serving did not see more of an increase in benefits. In addition, the type of nut does not seem to make a difference in the result. All tree nuts — such as hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds — were included, as well as peanuts, which are technically legumes, with similar results across all categories.
Nuts contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which likely play a big role in their benefit to heart health. They also have a high fiber content, ranging from 5-10 percent of the daily recommended serving, depending on the type of nut.
The findings from this study confirm what a large base of evidence suggests: that nuts should be part of a healthy diet. The benefits of adding only one serving a day are overwhelmingly positive, due to their nutrient makeup and caloric content. Although they are high in calories and fat, these are healthy fats which give them their heart-healthy power.