New research finds that nuts help reduce risk of heart failure

A handful of nuts might just be what the doctor ordered, according to a new study.

Eating nuts regularly could prevent the development of heart failure and an irregular heartbeat.

A study conducted by scientists from Sweden, monitored the cardiovascular health of 61,364 Swedish adults aged 45 to 83 years old for 17 years.

The results, published in journal Heart, identified that those who consumed nuts one to two times a week had a 20 per cent lower risk of suffering heart failure.

The study states that even a small increase in the amount of nuts included in the diet may reduce the risk of the cardiovascular diseases.

Eating nuts one to three times a month was associated with a three per cent lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat. While those who consumed nuts three or more times a week had an 18 per cent reduced risk, the research found.

Atrial fibrillation can lead to dizziness and shortness of breath and affects over 400,000 people in Australia, according to the Stroke Foundation.

Moderate, but not high, weekly consumption of nuts was associated with a lower chance of suffering heart failure, the researchers said, suggesting a less consistent link.

The authors note that the “results from this large prospective study suggest that nut consumption or factors associated with this nutritional behaviour may play a role in reducing the risk of atrial fibrillation and possibly heart failure.

“Since only a small proportion of this population had moderate (about 5 per cent) or high (less than 2 per cent) nut consumption, even a small increase in nut consumption may have large potential to lead to a reduction in incidence of atrial fibrillation and heart failure in this population.”

Nuts are a rich source of healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants, all of which could boost cardiovascular health.

Previous studies have found that eating nuts regularly can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and associated death.

Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Although this study did find that eating nuts was associated with a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation and possible heart failure, the researchers also found that people who ate nuts regularly were healthier in other ways.

“These participants were less likely to smoke and were more active and therefore it’s unlikely that their nut consumption alone was responsible for their healthier hearts.

“We do know that eating a handful of unsalted nuts each day will do you good, especially if they replace unhealthy snacks like crisp and sweets.”

Don’t go completely nuts for nuts

The study does outline that going nuts for nuts won’t reverse the health risks of an unhealthy lifestyle, unfortunately, so sticking to the recommended amount of nuts and maintaining a balanced routine is still vital.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines include nuts in the same food category as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes, due to their protein content. A daily serving of 30g is recommended but an additional 10g of nuts a day can also be used as a substitute for other healthy fat foods. A healthy 30g daily intake of nuts is a small handful or approximately:

  • 20 almonds
  • 15 cashews
  • 20 hazelnuts
  • 15 macadamias
  • 15 pecans
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • 30 pistachio kernels
  • 9 walnut kernels
  • a small handful of mixed nuts or about two of each of the ten nut varieties (except chestnut which isn’t eaten raw)

A small handful can be part of a healthy diet to maintain or even lose weight, as long as your overall kilojoule intake does not increase.

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