Eating nuts can do wonders for your body, from lessening your risk of dementia to helping you achieve a glowing complexion. Now, a new study published in the journal Food Nutrition Research says that eating a handful of nuts a day can lower your heart disease risk by 25%. The study evaluated data from 42 scientific papers that included 1.8 million people.
This isn’t the first study that touts the heart-healthy benefits of nuts, nor will it be the last. But the news is a great reminder that nuts lower the amount of fat in the blood, contain unsaturated fatty acids that can lower cholesterol, and are full of nutrients like fiber, magnesium and folic acid. Rigved Tadwalkar, M.D., a board certified cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, even told Prevention that nuts can “improve blood sugar control and promote healthy digestion. They have a lot of micronutrients that are linked with lower inflammatory response and oxidative stress.”
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But don’t think that simply eating your favorite nuts are going to do you any favors if the rest of your lifestyle is unhealthy. Nuts are only going to work to lower heart disease risk if you exercise regularly and eat other healthy foods on the regular while limiting your intake of sugar and nutrient-void junk food. It’s also important to remember that sometimes genetics and pre-existing conditions play a part in heart health, and a healthy diet can’t always fix that — but it certainly won’t hurt.
The new research doesn’t rank the nuts in terms of heart health, but it did mention almonds, walnuts and pistachios are the best for lowering cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are all great choices. The AHA also says that 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter (with not too much salt and no sugar or tropical oils added) is considered one serving.
While we love nuts around here, this is also a reminder not to go crazy and become an “almond mom” who thinks they can replace regular meals with a handful of the crunchies.