Walnuts Love Your Heart!

For years, tree nuts (for those without allergies) have been recommended in the diet to help stop heart disease. While it seemed that people who ate them appeared to have a lower risk, it was difficult to tell if their resistance to cardiovascular issues was due so much to nut consumption as to many other factors.

Certainly, the overall patterns of diet and exercise are critical to avoiding high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, cholesterol imbalance, and other heart-related diseases, nuts – especially walnuts – can make a dramatic difference with very little effort.

The results of three cohort studies – large-scale studies reviewing causes and effects of lifestyle and disease risk over time – found that even by adding walnuts in small amounts, cardiovascular disease risk dropped considerably.

Over a four-year period, men and women increased nut consumption by as little as half a serving of walnuts (which, compared to peanuts, other tree nuts, and peanut butter provided the best results) – about 14 grams, or as little as six walnut halves per day. A full serving then, only 28 grams, is still small – maybe a dozen walnut halves – and easy to fit into a diet.


Liu X, Guasch-Ferré M, Drouin-Chartier JP, et al. Increased Nut Consumption and Subsequent Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among U.S. Men and Women: Three Large Prospective Cohort Studies (OR17-08-19). Curr Dev Nutr. 2019;3(Suppl 1):nzz039.OR17-08-19. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzz039.OR17-08-19

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the association of changes in total consumption of nuts and in specific type of nuts (e.g., walnuts, other tree nuts, peanuts) and subsequent risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) in three large prospective cohorts of U.S. men and women.

METHODS: We included 34,222 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2012), 77,957 women from the Nurses' Health Study (1986-2012), and 80,756 women from the Nurses' Health Study II (1991-2013). We assessed nut consumption every 4 years using validated food frequency questionnaires. We used multivariable Cox proportional regression models to examine the association between 4-year changes in nut consumption and risk of confirmed CVD endpoints (composite nonfatal myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease [CHD], and nonfatal or fatal stroke) in the subsequent 4 years with a median follow-up of 17.2 years. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race, family history of CVD, intake of nuts at beginning of each-4 year and simultaneous changes of correlated dietary and lifestyle confounders.

RESULTS: During 2818,760 person-years of follow-up, we documented 8478 cases of incident CVD, including 4989 cases of CHD and 3489 cases of stroke. Per 0.5 serving/day (1 serving = 28 g) increase in total consumption of nuts was associated with a lower risk of CVD (RR = 0.92, 95% CI = 0.88-0.96), CHD (0.94, 0.89-0.99), and stroke (0.89, 0.83-0.95) (Figure 1).For each 0.5 serving increase per day, the RR for CVD in the subsequent 4 years was 0.86 (0.76-0.98) for walnuts, 0.93 (0.86-1.02) for other tree nuts, and 0.92 (0.86-0.99) for peanuts, respectively. We evaluated the joint association of initial and final nut consumption over 4 years with the subsequent risk of CVD, CHD and stroke. Compared with individuals who remained non-consumers, individuals who consistently had a high nut consumption (≥0.5 serving/day) had a significantly lower risk of CVD (0.75, 0.67-0.84), CHD (0.80, 0.69-0.93), and stroke (0.68, 0.57-0.82) (Figure 2).

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing intake of total nuts, including walnuts, other tree nuts, or peanuts, was associated with a subsequent lower risk of CVD.

FUNDING SOURCES: NIH: UM1 CA186107, UM1 CA176726, UM1 CA167552.Partly funded by The Peanut Institution and the California Walnut Commission. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, analyses, interpretation and publication.

Click here for a link to the complete study: Increased Nut Consumption and Subsequent Cardiovascular Disease Risk Among U.S. Men and Women: Three Large Prospective Cohort Studies

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