Cardiovascular disease risk can be reduced by eating nuts, according to a new study published in New England Journal of Medicine, and which was partly funded by The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation. The study is the largest of its kind.
Eating nuts on a regular basis has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, two diseases that, combined, cause one million deaths per year. Nut consumption can also help reduce the risk of colon cancer and diabetes. The more nuts eaten, the better for health but it’s important to remember that nuts are high in fats, even if if’s the healthy type of fat, and are rich in calories.
The participants in the study involved an average of 76,000 women and 42,000 men for the continuous Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, respectively. Throughout the span of these studies, 16,000 women died and 11,000 men died.
Even if nut consumption is occasional or just a few times a week, it is better than not eating nuts at all. The study demonstrated that people who ate nuts just once a week were 11% less likely to die, and those who ate nuts daily were 20% less likely to die.
People who ate nuts most days of the week were 29% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, 24% less likely to die from respiratory diseases, and 11% less likely to die from cancer. These are pretty serious numbers.
It does not matter what type of nuts are consumed but the participants in the study were asked about their consumption of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
What is also evident from this study is that people who eat nuts also tend to be thinner, more physically active, and nonsmoking. Eating enough nuts per day can stave off hunger pangs.
What is not clear from the study is just how many nuts will stave off cardiovascular disease and cancer. The Food and Drug Administration, however, recommends eating a handful of unsalted nuts a day.
What are other ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease?
Besides eating nuts every day, there are plenty of ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s not easy when there are plenty of unhealthful treats and snacks around but the payoff is well worth it.
- Avoid smoking. Just don’t start. Smokers say it staves off hunger pangs and stress, but the risks are not worth it. Who wants to have yellow, rotting teeth and charcoal lungs? Secondhand smoke is more deadly than smoking itself so it’d be advisable to avoid smokers though if friends or family are smokers, that is a tough one but that doesn’t mean smoking would be OK. Smoking should be avoided altogether.
- Keep cholesterol levels low. This means eating a diet low in bad fats and high in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Eat lots of salads with nuts and olive oil and vinegar dressing. Eat lean meats and poultry but only about three times a week. Red meat contributes to high cholesterol.
- Exercise. This does not have to be complicated. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, doing an enjoyable activity such as walking or dancing or jumping jacks. The key thing is movement so get moving! With pets, play tag and catch with them, they love playing with their owners. Dogs need to be walked also so this is beneficial for both owner and dog.
- Maintain a proper weight. If the focus is on eating right and exercising, this should not be difficult. For starting a weight plan, however, it is advisable to consult a physician first.
- Control temper and stress. Being moody and testy is unhealthy. It just doesn’t feel good so learn to practice meditation and do not take matters personally. Exercise is a good mood booster, also, and so is food. Eating well boosts the body and spirit.
- Reduce sugar intake. Too much sugar can lead to diabetes. But having a sweet tooth shouldn’t be all depressing because there are sugar-free snacks.
By Juana Poareo