The common snack that can slash your risk of a deadly heart attack revealedApril 21, 2022
A COMMON snack can slash your risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke.
Many people will already have it in the cupboard and have no idea of its incredible health benefits.
Nuts contain healthy fats, minerals and antioxidants, which can boost cardiovascular health.
They help form part of a “heart healthy” diet encouraged by the NHS.
It comes after years of studies show a link with reduced risk of cardiovascular conditions and events with a diet including nuts.
One study found that a Mediterranean diet with 30g of nuts each day – including walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds – was associated with a 30 per cent lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or death.
Specifically there was a 46 per cent lower risk of stroke, when compared to people who were told to just cut down on fat intake.
The 2018 study was backed by researchers in 2020, who used a much larger group of participants (192,000).
They showed that people who ate 15g of nuts per day had a lower risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events in a four-year period.
By analysing data every four years, they found participants who reduced their nut intake saw their odds of heart disease or stroke go up.
The paper said: “These data support the role of nut intake in the primary prevention of CVD.”
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Dietitian Sian Porter, working with Calorfinian Walnuts, said: “Research shows walnuts may have a beneficial effect on heart health.
“The EU has also approved the health claim that a handful of walnuts a day (30g) can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels and can thus help keep the cardiovascular system healthy.”
Scientists have also hailed nuts as a food that can help with blood pressure and cholesterol.
High blood pressure or cholesterol are both drivers of heart and vessel conditions.
Experts at Penn State University said that when combined with a diet low in saturated fats, eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure in people at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile, a review by the European Food Safety Authority has said ALA benefits cholesterol, which can clog the arteries.
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and antioxidant that has often shown to be good for the heart, reducing the risk of heart attacks and more.
But it can’t be made by the body – it is consumed through the diet, with walnuts, flaxseed and some oils.
A 2021 study found sustained lower levels of cholesterol among 700 healthy older adults who ate walnuts as part of their diet for four years.
Researchers found that a serving of walnuts per day made a positive effect on total cholesterol without causing weight gain.
Although nuts are bursting with nutrients, they are a high calorie food and you have to be careful with over-snacking.
But the study found they can be part of a balanced, daily diet without causing a person to pile on the pounds.
The antioxidants in walnuts are thought to help fight oxidative damage in the body, including damage due to “bad” cholesterol.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains that not all nuts are made of the same fats.
BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor wrote: “Brazil nuts, cashews and macadamia nuts are higher in saturated fat. Too much of this can contribute to raised cholesterol levels, so only eat them occasionally.”
Most nuts are higher in unsaturated fats – “either polyunsaturated fats in walnuts and pine nuts, or monounsaturated fats in almonds, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts”, Victoria said.
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She added: “A portion of nuts is 30g (a small, cupped handful) which is about 175kcal.
“Try to avoid dry-roasted, salted, flavoured or honey-roasted nuts, which come with extra salt and sometimes sugar too.”
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