Nuts, good fats and heart health: Eating nuts twice a week lowers heart attack and stroke risk
07/14/2020 // Zoey Sky // Views

Nuts may be small in size, but these amazing superfoods pack a ton of flavor and lots of nutrients in every bite. According to a study presented at ESC Congress 2019 and the World Congress of Cardiology, consuming nuts can also help boost your heart health.

Nuts and cardiovascular health

While European and U.S. studies have linked the consumption of nuts to heart health benefits, data from the Eastern Mediterranean Region is lacking.

For the study, researchers set out to determine the link between nut consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the Iranian population.

The 5,432 adult study participants were aged 35 years old or older. None of them had a history of cardiovascular disease, and the volunteers were randomly chosen from urban and rural areas of the Arak, Isfahan and Najafabad counties.

The researchers assessed the volunteers' intake of almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts and seeds using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

Noushin Mohammadifard, one of the study authors from the Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Institute in Iran, said that nuts are rich in unsaturated fat and contain little saturated fat. He recommends a diet that incorporates nuts because they are a natural source of fiber, minerals, vitamins, protein, phytosterols and polyphenols, all of which benefit heart health.

Unsaturated fats can also help lower the risk of heart disease and reduce cholesterol levels.

There are two main types of unsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and omega-6 fatty acids from some plant oils and Brazil nuts. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, avocados and some nuts like almonds and cashews.


The researchers interviewed the volunteers or their family members every two years from 2001 until 2013 to record cardiovascular events and death. The specific outcomes they considered were:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Total cardiovascular disease
  • Death from any cause
  • Death from cardiovascular disease

After a median 12-year follow-up, the scientists recorded:

  • 751 Cardiovascular events (594 coronary heart disease and 157 strokes)
  • 179 Cardiovascular deaths
  • 458 All-cause deaths

How often should you consume nuts for a healthier heart?

After examining data from the volunteers, the researchers found that consuming nuts two or more times a week was linked to a 17 percent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality compared with eating nuts only once every two weeks.

After the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence this link, such as age, sex, education, smoking and physical activity, the benefits of nut consumption were "robust." While eating nuts was inversely linked to other outcomes, these benefits were lost after the adjustment. (Related: Eat nuts for a healthy heart: Peanuts are a protein-rich snack with many health benefits.)

According to the ESC guidelines, a balanced diet must include at least 30 grams of unsalted nuts per day. Mohammadifard suggests eating raw, fresh nuts since they are the healthiest.

Unsaturated fats in stale nuts become oxidized, and this is bad for your health. Rancid nuts may smell like paint and taste bitter or sour.

Nuts that help boost overall health

Adding nuts like almonds and walnuts to your regular diet can help keep your heart strong and boost your overall health.

  • Almonds, cashews and pistachios contain 160 calories per ounce. Eat them in moderation to boost your intake of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. An ounce of almonds (23 nuts) contains six grams of protein and 14 grams of fat. Cashews (16 to 18 nuts) contain five grams of protein and 13 grams of fat. Pistachios (49 nuts) contain six grams of protein and 13 grams of fat.
  • Brazil nuts are creamy and full of selenium, a mineral that can help prevent prostate cancer and other diseases. An ounce of Brazil nuts (six nuts) contains 190 calories, 19 grams of fat and four grams of protein.
  • Pecans offer benefits for men since they are rich in beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid that can relieve symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate enlargement. An ounce of pecans (18 to 20 halves) contains 200 calories, 21 grams of fat and three grams of protein.
  • Walnuts are full of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. ALA can boost your heart health. An ounce of walnuts (14 halves) contains 185 calories, 18 grams of fat and four grams of protein.

Boost your heart health by snacking on nuts at least twice a week. For more articles about nutritious foods that can improve your overall health, visit

Sources include:

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