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Nuts for a Healthy Heart: New Study Reveals Eating Nuts Daily Lowers Cardiovascular Disease Risk

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According to a new study, consuming nuts and seeds regularly can significantly decrease the likelihood of developing heart disease.

Nuts lower cholesterol levels and are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. By eating nuts, you reduce your risk of suffering or dying from a heart attack, shows a new systematic review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers working at the University of Oslo and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and elsewhere. They reached this conclusion after examining the results of 60 previous studies. Their review was part of the work being carried out on the development of new Nordic dietary guidelines. The findings were recently published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research.

“If you eat a handful of nuts every day, that is around 30 grams, you will have a 20%–25% lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. In comparison, adults in the Nordic countries only eat on average around 4 grams of nuts a day. Many do not eat nuts or seeds at all”, said Erik Arnesen, a research fellow at the University of Oslo and the first author of the study.

Arnesen emphasises that even though scientists say “the more the better”, eating just a few nuts is better than none at all. Almonds, pistachios and walnuts appear to be the best for lowering cholesterol, but according to Arnesen, there is so far no conclusive evidence for recommending specific kinds of nuts over and above others.

“Nuts have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels in the blood, which it is important to keep low in order to prevent the build-up of fat in the arteries. This atherosclerosis, as it is called, is one of the greatest risk factors for heart attacks”, he explained.

The researchers were also asked to investigate whether eating nuts reduces the risk of strokes and type 2 diabetes type.

“We are not sure about this. Nuts do not appear to affect blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors behind strokes. We cannot be sure whether nuts are good for blood sugar levels either, which are linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes,” said Arnesen.

When it comes to cardiovascular health, the conclusion is that eating nuts is advantageous.

“Even though several studies have indicated as much previously, this is the biggest review so far on cardiovascular health,” said Arnesen.

“Thanks to this systematic review and meta-analysis, we can present a more precise estimate of the actual effects. Proving that nuts lower cholesterol levels provides a credible explanation for why there is a connection between eating nuts and the risk of cardiovascular disease”.

One of the reasons Arnesen gives for this connection is the composition of fatty acids in nuts.

“Even though nuts cannot be used to treat high cholesterol, we believe that the effect is significant enough to be used as a preventive measure amongst the general population,” concluded the research fellow.

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