PARIS — Nuts are a go-to snack for millions all over the world, and for good reason. Besides the fact that they’re delicious, making them a regular part of your diet boasts a number of health benefits. Now, a new study just presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference reveals yet another reason why you should opt for an afternoon snack of nuts over that tempting bag of chips or a chocolate bar: eating a portion of nuts at least twice per week is linked to a 17% lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke, and other heart disease-related conditions.
“Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fat and contain little saturated fat,” explains study author Dr Noushin Mohammadifard of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute in Iran in a statement. “They also have protein, minerals, vitamins, fibre, phytosterols, and polyphenols which benefit heart health. European and U.S. studies have related nuts with cardiovascular protection but there is limited evidence from the Eastern Mediterranean Region.”
The study focused specifically on frequency of nut consumption and subsequent risk of cardiovascular disease or death amongst an Iranian population sample, all over the course of 12 years. In all, 5,432 adults aged 35 or older took part in the study. All of the participants were randomly selected from various areas of Iran, and had no history of cardiovascular disease.
Each participant’s average consumption of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, seeds, hazelnuts, and various other nuts was originally recorded all the way back in 2001 using a questionnaire. Then, each participant was followed up on and asked about any cardiovascular problems once every two years until 2013.
Over the course of the 12-year follow up period, the research team collected data on 751 cardiovascular events (coronary heart disease or stroke), 179 cardiovascular-related deaths, and 458 all cause deaths.
After analyzing their findings, researchers discovered that eating nuts two or more times per week was associated with a 17% lower risk of death from a heart condition, compared to those who only ate nuts once every two weeks. Even after adjusting for other factors that could have influenced the results, such as age, smoking habits, and physical activity, the connection between eating nuts and improved heart health was still strong.
As far as a daily recommended serving of nuts, the ESC lists 30 grams of unsalted nuts per day as part of a healthy diet.
“Raw fresh nuts are the healthiest,” Dr Mohammadifard adds. “Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidised in stale nuts, making them harmful. You can tell if nuts are rancid by their paint-like smell and bitter or sour taste.”