Published in the journal Heart this week, the new study suggests that people eating several portions of nuts a week may have a lower risk of developing heart problems such as atrial fibrillation, heart disease and heart attacks.
Eating nuts every week reduced the risk of a heart attack by 20 per cent, according to the Sweden-based.
It also found that consuming this hard-shelled food three or more times a week, reduced the risk of atrial fibrillation by 18 per cent. Conversely, consuming them one to three times a month only lowered the risk by three per cent.
This may be due to the nuts properties. “Packed with protein, fibre and essential fats, nuts are one of this season’s best buys,” said Nutritional Therapist Kerry Torrens to BBC Good Food.
“A golf ball-sized portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals.”
The researchers followed 61,000 Swedish 45-83 year olds for 17 years, monitoring the health of their heart.
“Nut consumption or factors associated with this nutritional behaviour may play a role in reducing the risk of atrial fibrillation and possibly heart failure,” writes Susanna Larsson, lead author of the study, and other scientists involved.
“Since only a small proportion of this population had moderate (about five per cent) or high (less than two per cent) nut consumption, even a small increase in nut consumption may have large potential to lead to a reduction in incidence of atrial fibrillation and heart failure in this disease.”
Tracey Parker, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation told the Press Association, “Although this study did find that eating nuts was associated with a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation and possible heart failure, the researchers also found that people who ate nuts regularly were healthier in other ways.”
“These participants were less likely to smoke and were more active and therefore it’s unlikely that their nut consumption alone was responsible for their healthier hearts.”
“We do not know that eating a handful of unsalted nuts each day will do you good, especially if they replace unhealthy snacks like crisps and sweets.”
“However, unfortunately, going nuts for nuts won’t reverse the health risks of an unhealthy lifestyle.”
The researchers noted that people who ate more nuts tended to be “better educated”, and have “healthier lifestyles,” which may have led to the results, as published by the British Medical Journal.
“They were less likely to smoke or to have a history of high blood pressure. And they were leaner, more physically active, drank more alcohol and ate more fruit and vegetables.”
The research did not say which nuts would greater health benefits. The health benefits of these ‘hard fruits’ are already widely discussed.
Recent research found that eating them may make you more intelligent, and allow you to get better after illnesses more quickly. Pistachios were said to be the best nuts for improving brain function, according to researchers at Loma Linda University.
Another study, published last month, suggested that eating nuts and seeds may almost halve the risk of premature death.
Nuts are available from most supermarkets based in the UK including Aldi, Tesco and Morrisons. They can be purchased for anywhere between 50p to £5.00, depending on the type of nut and quantity purchased.
These ‘shelled fruits’ are also recommended as part of the widely acclaimed ‘Mediterranean diet’ to help reduce the pain associated with arthritis.
Nuts are also excellent for arthritis sufferers as they are packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, which will help to reduce pain for people with arthritis.