Enjoying a handful of nuts every day can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by more than 20% and coronary heart disease by nearly 30% [1]. And if you have heart disease, eating nuts can reduce your risk of dying from it [1].
Regularly eating nuts can also significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and improve the ratio of bad to good cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease [2].

How do nuts support heart health?

  • Nuts have a high proportion of healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and lower unhealthy saturated fats. A diet high in saturated and trans-fat is associated with higher cholesterol levels [3].
  • Nuts contain phytosterols, which help reduce cholesterol in the blood by reducing the amount that the body absorbs, and removing it from the body instead [4, 5].
  • Arginine, an essential amino acid, helps blood vessels remain flexible and prevent blood clots [6]. 
  • Vitamin E, riboflavin, selenium, manganese, copper, zinc and polyphenols are all found in nuts. These act as antioxidants, which help protect your body’s cells from damage caused by oxidation [7-9]. 
  • The fibre and soluble fibre found in nuts helps reduce blood cholesterol by lowering cholesterol re-absorption from the intestine [10].

How many nuts do I need to eat?

Many studies have investigated how many nuts you should eat, with the majority suggesting that 30g (about one handful) of nuts 2-5 times a week will support heart health.

Which nuts are best?

Studies have been conducted on many different tree nuts, with most suggesting all nuts have a similar effect on heart health. However, we know Australians eat too much salt (which can increase blood pressure), so it’s best to enjoy raw or roasted, unsalted nuts as your everyday choice, saving salted nuts for special occasions.

References

  1. Aune, D., et al., 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 Med, 2016. 14(1): p. 207.
  2. Neale, E., et al., The effect of nut consumption on heart health: an updated systematic review of the literature. 2018. Nuts for Life, unpublished.
  3. Mensink, R., Effects of saturated fatty acids on serum lipids and lipoproteins: a systematic review and regression analysis. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2016.
  4. Racette, S.B., et al., Dose effects of dietary phytosterols on cholesterol metabolism: a controlled feeding study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010. 91(1): p. 32-38.
  5. Rocha, M., et al., A review on the role of phytosterols: new insights into cardiovascular risk. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2011. 17(36): p. 4061-4075.
  6. Neale, E.P., et al., The effect of nut consumption on markers of inflammation and endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open, 2017. 7(11): p. e016863.
  7. Lopez-Uriarte, P., et al., Nuts and oxidation: a systematic review. Nutr Rev, 2009. 67(9): p. 497-508.
  8. Olas, B. and B. Wachowicz, Resveratrol, a phenolic antioxidant with effects on blood platelet functions. Platelets, 2005. 16(5): p. 251-60.
  9. Bullo, M., R. Lamuela-Raventos, and J. Salas-Salvado, Mediterranean diet and oxidation: nuts and olive oil as important sources of fat and antioxidants. Curr Top Med Chem, 2011. 11(14): p. 1797-810.
  10. Surampudi, P., et al., Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber. Curr Atheroscler Rep, 2016. 18(12): p. 75.
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