Nut Consumption and Ischemic heart disease

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There are fears among some that nuts are bad because they are high in fat, and of course the idea is that high fat causes heart problems and excess weight. However, there is evidence from the Adventist Health studies that suggest that nut consumption may be protective against ischemic heart disease. 



What were the results?

In a very large sample of Seventh-day Adventists in California, researchers found that compared to those who consumed nuts less than once a week those eating nuts:

  • 1 to 4 times a week had 22% lower risk of heart attack and 24% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease
     
  • 5 + times a week had 51% lower risk of heart attack  and 48% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. 

 


Is it really the nuts or is some other factor confounding the results?

There is always the possibility of some confounding effects, but the researchers found that the effect held strong regardless of:

  • meat intake
  • other foods studied in this population
  • whether the group was vegetarian or non-vegetarian

 

Conclusion

There are many who have a fear of nuts because they are "high in fat" and of course people believe: "fat is bad for you." However, though nuts are higher in fat compared to other plant-based foods, there is evidence that suggests that nuts may have protective effects against heart attack. 

The recommended intake would be about a minimum of 5 times a week. A good serving size is about an handful of nuts per day. 

 

 

References

Fraser, G. Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr 1999; 70 (supplements): 532S - 8S 

Sabate, J. Nut consumption, vegetarian diets, ischemic heart disease risk, and all-cause mortality: evidence from epidemiologic studies. Am J ClinNutr1999; 70 (suppl): 500S-3S

George Cho