Need an elevenses snack? Instead of reaching for the Hobnobs, experts suggest nibbling on some nuts to keep hunger at bay.
That’s because eating a handful of nuts a couple of times a week can cut the risk of heart disease by almost a quarter, research has revealed.
A study of over 210,000 people found that those who ate walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans and peanuts two or more times a week were 23% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 15% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
The same amount of peanuts – which are technically classed as a legume – also reduced the risk of the conditions by 15 and 13 per cent, respectively.
While eating walnuts one or more times per week reduced coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease risk by 21 and 19 per cent.
Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr Marta Guasch-Ferre, a nutritionist at Harvard University in Boston said: “Our findings support recommendations of increasing the intake of a variety of nuts, as part of healthy dietary patterns, to reduce the risk of chronic disease in the general populations.”
The large-scale research, published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology, collated the medical history, lifestyle and illnesses of 210,000 female nurses and male health professionals for up to 32 years via self-administered questionnaires every two years.
The analysis revealed a link between the quantities of nuts consumed and cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
Those how ate five or more servings of nuts a week had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Dr Emilio Ros, of the Endocrinology and Nutrition service at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, reviewed the results and said the study really does seem to suggest that nuts protect against heart disease.
“Raw nuts, if possible unpeeled and otherwise unprocessed, may be considered as natural health capsules that can be easily incorporated into any heart-protective diet to further cardiovascular well-being and promote healthy ageing,” he said.
The NHS says Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels.
It’s usually associated with a build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries – known as atherosclerosis – and an increased risk of blood clots. It can also be associated with damage to arteries in organs such as the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes.
According to recent statistics CVD affects 2.3 million people in the UK and is one of the main causes of death and disability. But it can often largely be prevented with a healthy lifestyle, starting with adding nuts to the shopping list.
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