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Adding More Nuts to Your Day Could Help Your Heart

Allison Benson, R.D., L.R.D., Program Assistant, NDSU Extension

Including nuts in your diet could help you improve your heart health.

Studies have shown that eating only 20 grams of nuts (approximately 2 tablespoons) can cut diabetes risk by as much as 40 percent and risk of infectious diseases by 75 percent.

A new study set out to determine the associations between nut consumption and cardiovascular disease risk. The researchers examined food frequency questionnaires from men and women during a period of 32 years to determine nut intake. The researchers found that people who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular or coronary heart disease than people who never or almost never eat nuts. The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in November 2017.

The researchers also discovered the following relationships with nut varieties:

  • Consuming walnuts two to three times a week was associated with a 19 percent decrease in cardiovascular risk and a 21 percent decrease in coronary heart disease risk.
  • Eating peanuts twice a week was linked with a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 15 percent reduction in coronary heart disease.
  • Tree nut intake was correlated with a 15 percent lower cardiovascular risk and a 23 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk.

"Our findings support recommendations of increasing the intake of a variety of nuts, as part of healthy dietary patterns, to reduce the risk of chronic disease in the general populations," says Marta Guasch-Ferre, one of the study’s authors. She is a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes ½ ounce of nuts as one serving of protein. This is equivalent to 12 almonds, 24 pistachios or seven walnut halves; 1 tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter; or ½ ounce of hulled and roasted pumpkin, sunflower or squash seeds.

Because nuts are high in calories, experts recommend substituting a serving of nuts and seeds for another type of protein, such as meat or poultry, rather than adding them to what you already eat.




Try adding slivered almonds to sautéed green beans or peanuts to a stir-fry in place of meat, or top a green salad with pecans instead of meat or cheese.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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