We all know we should be trying to fit more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet, but that’s easier said than done. Try as we might, eating certain foods every singly day doesn’t always pan out. But what about keeping up with a weekly habit? Not only is that significantly more manageable, but the health benefits may be just as enticing. One study found that eating a particular type of nut just once a week could substantially improve your heart health. Read on to find out which type of nut you should add to your diet to slash your heart disease risk.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology analyzed how nut consumption could impact the risk of heart disease in terms of both cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, in particular. The researchers observed the nut consumption of more than 210,000 people for up to 32 years who had no signs of cancer, heart disease, or stroke at the beginning of the study. According to the study, the participants who ate walnuts at least once a week had a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease when compared to those who did not eat nuts.
Walnuts were not the only beneficial nuts, however. According to the study, eating peanuts or other types of tree nuts two or more times per week also helped decrease people’s chances of developing heart disease. When compared to people who never consumed nuts, people who ate peanuts at least twice a week had a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 15 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, while people who ate tree nuts at least twice a week had a 15 lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.
“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,” study lead author Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, a research fellow at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement.
Nuts have other health benefits, too. The researchers found that eating peanuts and walnuts in particular can lower one’s risk of stroke. According to the study, people who ate peanuts at least twice a week had a 10 percent lower risk of stroke, while people who ate walnuts at least once a week had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke. The total consumption of tree nuts or nuts overall did not have an impact on stroke risk, however.
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The researchers for this study also analyzed how peanut butter impacted people’s risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Ultimately, they concluded that the consumption of peanut butter on its own (with a serving defined as 1 tablespoon) had no significant impact on any of these health concerns. However, people who consumed five or more servings of nuts overall in one week had a 14 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than participants who almost never consumed nuts.
“Raw fresh nuts are the healthiest,” study co-author Noushin Mohammadifard, PhD, assistant professor at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, explained in a statement. “Nuts should be fresh because unsaturated fats can become oxidized in stale nuts, making them harmful. You can tell if nuts are rancid by their paint-like smell and bitter or sour taste.”