Are nuts good for your heart? Let’s find out.

Iowa Women’s Health Study

Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women (Ellsworth, Kushi & Folsom, 2001)

In 1986, the Iowa Women’s Health Study include 34,000 postmenopausal women with no cardiovascular disease. And one of the things the researchers studied was the frequency of their nut consumption and their risk of coronary heart disease or CHD.

After 12 years of follow-up, 3,726 women died and 657 of which were caused by CHD. So, they found that their consumption of nut had a modest protection against all-cause mortality and coronary heart disease.

Two more studies coming up… Let’s find out if they have a similar result.

Harvard Nurses’ Health Study

Frequent Nut Consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study (Hu et. al., 1998) by Frank Hu and colleagues.

An earlier study than Iowa Women’s Health Study. Their sample population is 86,016 female nurses without previous diagnosis of CHD or coronary heart disease. The researchers found other risk factors such as age, smoking and other variables. They adjusted that and determined the significance of nut consumption. Women who ate 5 oz. of nuts per week have lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease and non-fatal myocardial infarction or heart attack.

Apart from this, epidemiological and clinical studies support the benefit of nut consumption in coronary heart disease.

 

The Adventist Health Study

A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. (Fraser et al., 1992)

This is the original study, followed by Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study and Iowa Women’s Health Study on the nut consumption and Coronary Heart Disease. It is a derivative of the Adventist Health Study 1 conducted from 1974-1988 with 34,192 California Adventists ages 25 and older. This study was published by the lead researcher Dr. Gary Fraser with his colleagues in 1992.

What was the result of the study?

They found that those who consume nuts more than 4 times a week have fewer relative risks, mainly confirmed CHD fatal events and confirmed nonfatal MI (aka heart attack) as compared to those who consume nuts less than once per week. This result was apparent in 16 subgroups of the sample population.

Another interesting variable in their study was beef consumption, which showed higher risk in confirmed fatal CHD for men who ate beef at least 3 times a week. It did not show the same result in women, even for non-fatal MI or heart attack. But that doesn’t give women a license to eat beef, especially when injected with hormones. It’s better to be a vegetarian. Case in point, I have to prove that to you with several research studies.

So, going back to the nut consumption, the favorable fatty acid profile of nuts is one of the plausible explanations of its protective effect on coronary heart disease.

Eat nuts more than 4 times a week and reap its protective effect on the coronary heart disease.

So, what is your favorite nut? Well, I like pili nut. Search that, it’s only found in Southeast Asia, particularly Philippines. I love cashews and almonds, very versatile nuts, great for butter, cream, milk, flour and more. I also like pistachios. And I love walnuts, a perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6. Brain food!

And of course, the biggest nut!

C-O  C-O  N-U-T

Well, just an advisory, it’s not a nut!

But if you’re allergic to nuts, don’t worry, you have a great alternative, coconut! And avocados, olives and olive oil, and your seeds like, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds.

 

Myrtle Pettit is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. She finished her Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Nutrition at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. Furthermore, her drive to combine theory and practice led her to Living Light Culinary Institute, Fort Bragg, CA, to be certified as a Raw Food Chef and Instructor. She also holds a Master Food Preserver from Cornell University. Myrtle offers one on one consultation, provides health lectures, seminars, and healthy cooking classes to promote a healthier lifestyle. She’s very supportive of her students’ journey to health in every stage.