Eating several small amounts of nuts every week may lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Cardiovascular diseases are conditions such as heart disease and strokes which are characterised by reduced blood flow to the heart, brain or body due to a blockage or narrowing of the arteries.
Heart disease is one of the leading killers in Kenya and is tenth on the list of the leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Worldwide, an estimated 17.7 million people died from heart disease in 2015, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths.
Data from a large study conducted over three decades by researchers at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health involving 210,000 people, revealed the findings.
In one of the largest studies on nuts to date, scientists studied 210,000 individuals in three large comprehensive studies, following up their subjects over a 32-year period.
Scientists working on the project whose findings were published in November 2017 said they found consumption of nuts lowers risk of heart complications.
“People who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease compared to people who never, or almost never, eat nuts. We found a definite association between total nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said researcher and nutritionist Marta Guasch-Ferré, one of the study authors.
Researchers found that eating nuts lowered the risk of heart disease by 14 per cent for those consuming nuts five or more times per week and 20 per cent for coronary heart disease respectively.
The team also discovered that those who consumed a handful of nuts or approximately about 28 grams five times or more each week had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
“Each 28 gram increase in nut intake was associated with a 6 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 13 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease. In pursuit of a healthy diet, I would therefore recommend the consumption of four to seven servings per week of any type of nuts,” Dr Guasch-Ferré said.
Nuts have long been regarded as a healthy snack with many health benefits.
Considered a source of protein, nuts also contain healthy fats and other substances that are good for the heart.
“Nuts contain a healthy type of fat (monounsaturated) that help lower cholesterol in blood, and therefore is heart-protective. Nuts also contain fibre and other active nutrients that seem to decrease inflammation in the body, which also is heart protective,” said Dr Lauri Wright, an assistant professor in public health at the University of South Florida.