People Who Regularly Eat Nuts Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease Interview with:
“Nuts” by fdecomite is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD
Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
655 Huntington Ave, Building 2
Boston, Ma, 02115 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although previous evidence has shown that frequent nut consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk factors including dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; as well as with lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); most of the previous prospective studies have focused on total nut consumption in relation to the risk of CVD. However, the associations between peanut butter and specific types of nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, with major cardiovascular events, and specifically the relation with stroke were unclear. Of note, because the nutritional composition of peanuts and walnuts differs from other nuts, it was of particular interest to evaluate the health effects of specific types of nuts. Therefore, our main aim was to look at several types of nuts including total nut consumption, peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts.

Briefly, in three large prospective cohorts with up to 32 years of follow-up, 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 consistent inverse association between total nut consumption and total cardiovascular disease (14% lower risk for those consuming nuts five or more times per week) and coronary heart disease (20% lower risk).

Also, after looking at individual nut consumption, eating walnuts one or more times per week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Participants who ate peanuts or tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15 percent and 23 percent, respectively, lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never consumed nuts. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The take home-message of the present work is to include a handful of nuts per day as part of a healthy diet to improve heart health and the risk of other chronic diseases. Recently, dietary recommendations have shifted toward diets including higher quantities of plant-based foods over animal-based foods, with most dietary patterns including nuts because of their association with reduced cardiovascular risk factors and unique nutritional composition. Nuts are a good source of healthy fats including mono- and poly- unsaturated fatty acids as well as rich in plant-based protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Thus, they can be a key food to be included as part of healthy diets high in plant-based food and help to substitute animal foods such as red meat providing a nutritious and delicious food. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Several lines of research can be pursued after this work including a more in depth investigation of the mechanisms underlying the associations between nuts and cardiovascular disease with novel omic techniques such as genomics, metabolomics and proteomics.

Second, to further investigate the differences among preparation of nuts and further elucidate the effect of peanut butter on health outcomes. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Despite nuts being an energy-dense food, there is no scientific evidence supporting associations between weight gain and nut consumption. Indeed, they have been associated with lower weight gain and lower risk of obesity, probably because they can increase satiety and fullness which may potentially reduce the consumption of unhealthy snacks.

No disclosures to report. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology
Volume 70, Issue 20, November 2017
DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.09.035
Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Marta Guasch-Ferré, Xiaoran Liu, Vasanti S. Malik, Qi Sun, Walter C. Willett, JoAnn E. Manson, Kathryn M. Rexrode, Yanping Li, Frank B. Hu and Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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