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Eating More Nuts May Help Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

A recent Harvard study suggests that people who regularly eat nuts — including peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts — have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease when compared with people who almost never or never eat nuts.


Participants in the study included more than 210,000 people who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up study. All of the studies had a follow-up period of up to 32 years and all collected information about medical history, lifestyle, and health conditions every two years.


Over the course of the study periods, 14,136 cardiovascular disease cases were documented, including 8,390 coronary heart disease cases and 5,910 stroke cases. After examining the data, the researchers found that people who ate walnuts one or more times per week had a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate no nuts. They also found that people who ate peanuts had a 13% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 15% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Additionally, people who ate tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate no nuts.


People who ate five or more servings of nuts per week had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease when compared with people who never or almost never ate nuts. There was no association between total nut consumption and stroke risk, but both peanuts and walnuts were inversely associated with risk of stroke.


Researchers the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health conducted the study. It was published on November 14, 2017, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


Nuts are a rich source of magnesium, vitamin E, protein and beneficial phytochemicals. Numerous studies have associated phytochemicals with antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.


In the United States, nuts are typically consumed in the form of snack food. If you want to add more nuts to your diet, you can try replacing unhealthy snacks such as chips and candy bars with raw, unsalted nuts.

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