walnuts, nuts help the heart, eating walnuts

We’re nuts about nuts. A new epidemiological study demonstrates that people who enjoy an ounce of nuts several times a week are less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease (Guasch-Ferré et al, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online, Nov. 14, 2017).

How Do Nuts Help the Heart?

The investigators reviewed data from over 200,000 health care workers. These health professionals participated in the Nurses Health Study, the Nurses Health Study 2 and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They provided data on their health and behavior for more than 20 years.

Every four years they answered questionnaires about their dietary habits. Compared to people who did not consume nuts, those who ate an ounce of nuts at least five times a week had a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Apparently, both peanuts and tree nuts help the heart; walnuts seemed to have the strongest effect. Almonds, cashews and pistachios were also associated with reduced rates of clogged coronary arteries. Don’t count on peanut butter for benefit, though. Overall, it neither helped nor harmed people’s risk of cardiovascular complications.

Nuts & Nutrition:

The researchers point out the nutritional benefits of nuts. They are rich in minerals and fiber as well as unsaturated fatty acids. Walnuts, in particular, contain omega-3 fatty acids that appear to protect the arteries. Both the DASH diet, proven to control blood pressure, and the Mediterranean diet, shown to reduce cardiovascular problems, contain nuts as one component. This seems to be additional evidence that nuts help the heart. You’ll find detailed information on how to follow either of these diets in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Janet
    Elk Grove, CA

    It’s not nuts. It’s what IN the nuts – MAGNESIUM – that’s good for the heart! Where do you find MAGNESIUM? Magnesium is found in whole grains, greens, beans, nuts, and seeds. In order to make you eat more MAGNESIUM, the nut industry wants you to think eating handfuls of nuts will prevent you from suffering cardiac arrest. That is not the case.

  2. c

    What do you do when you just found out that NUTS where causing your night time leg pains.
    I was camping out and had off and on leg pains in the previous weeks .
    I was reading PP news letter about nuts causing leg pains. I had packed walnuts as snacks. Plus had been snacking on nuts before that. Thinking back I realized the pain had stopped when I had run out of nuts. Stopped all nuts, no more night pain.

  3. Cindy M. B
    Seattle, WA

    There’s something I’ve started wondering about, and it’s apropos to this article. We are warned a lot about fish oil, krill oil, etc. The oil is supposedly bad for us if it’s too old, has been exposed to light or heat, etc., and therefore has become “rancid.” In this case, instead of HELPING our health, the oil reportedly hurts us by creating free radicals and aging us faster.

    WELL THEN, HERE’S MY QUESTION: If this can happen to liquid oils, then what about the oils in nuts? Or in things like packaged baking mixes (not that I use them) and other food products? For that matter, how about the oils in cosmetics and beauty products??? Just today I was munching on some walnuts and one tasted stale. OMG, is it gonna create free radicals?!

    I wonder WHY there’s absolutely no information on whether the oils in various products can hurt us if those products get too old (and often there’s no way of telling that). PP, do you have an opinion?

    • Terry Graedon

      In general, avoid rancid oils. They may not kill you, but they aren’t helpful and they don’t taste good.

    • Thai

      Cindy, I have read that rancid nuts are carcinogenic. I spit them out when I come across them. I’ve found that nuts from Costco seem to have fewer bad nuts in the package than those from Trader Joe’s. I’ve found so many rancid (old) nuts in TJ’s bags on occasion I’ve returned them and no longer get nuts there. A manager told me when I mentioned this during a nut return that they have had trouble with their walnuts. I LOVE both TJ’s and Costco, so this isn’t a put down of Trader Joe’s. I store the large Costco bags of raw, whole walnuts, almonds, and pecans in the bottom bin of the fridge in their original bags with a rubber band to keep them fresh. Nuts and nut oils should always be stored in a very cool or cold place, but take care they don’t become moist, which could encourage mold. In some parts of Africa there is a lot of liver cancer, thought to be partly because they eat large amounts of peanuts that may be contaminated with aflatoxin, a deadly mold nuts can get. Nuts are a super food, in my opinion, especially for us vegans and vegetarians; so many uses that give body, flavor, and caloric density to healthy dishes. Enjoy!

  4. Valerie

    Why not peanut butter or what about any other nut butters? Ia their less fiber than eating the whole nuts?

  5. gw
    So Cal

    I thought the headline said, “Donuts help the heart stay strong?”
    I was shocked.

    • Maria
      College Station, Texas

      I also thought it said “Do Donuts Help the Heart Stay Strong”. But this article was interesting! I’ll happily add more pistachios and almonds into my diet. Great toppings for salads!

    • Mary
      SouthCoast Massachusetts

      I wish the study had separated “regular nut-fanciers” from vegetarians/vegans. The latter tend to eat healthier in every regard, whereas the former tend to indulge often in products that are known to either reduce or hold little/no benefit for the heart. I always wonder about causality in these matters.

  6. Nina

    Why would peanuts be beneficial but not peanut butter? The peanut butter I eat is just made from peanuts and salt. And sometimes not even salt. Peanut butter always tastes fresh. Not necessarily true of peanuts.

  7. Jen

    Are pistachios good for you? They are my favorite. I am aware walnuts are probably the best for you and I eat them.

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