In a new study, researchers found eating nuts at least twice a week is associated with a 17% lower risk of death from a heart attack and stroke.
The research was conducted by a team from Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute.
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.
Previous studies have related nuts with cardiovascular protection but there is limited evidence from the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
This study examined the association between nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the Iranian population.
A total of 5,432 adults aged 35 and older with no history of cardiovascular disease were included.
Intake of nuts including walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and seeds was assessed in 2001 with a validated food frequency questionnaire.
Participants or family members were interviewed every two years until 2013 for the occurrence of cardiovascular events and death.
The specific outcomes were coronary heart disease, stroke, total cardiovascular disease, death from any cause, and death from cardiovascular disease.
During a 12-year follow-up, there were 751 cardiovascular events (594 coronary heart disease and 157 strokes), 179 cardiovascular deaths, and 458 all-cause deaths.
The team found eating nuts two or more times per week was linked to a 17% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality compared to consuming nuts once every two weeks.
The connection was robust even after adjusting for factors that could influence the relationship such as age, sex, education, smoking, and physical activity.
The team says raw fresh nuts are the healthiest. Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidized in stale nuts, making them harmful.
ESC guidelines list 30 grams of unsalted nuts per day as one of the characteristics of a healthy diet while noting that the energy density of nuts is high.
One author of the study is Dr. Noushin Mohammadifard of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute.
The study was presented at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology.
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