- Eating many servings of nuts each week can help lower the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)
- Nuts are rich in healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants. All these are heart healthy.
Eating more nuts each week can help lower the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm) also known as heart flutter, reveals research published in the journal Heart.
Research indicates that eating this amount of nuts may also reduce the risk of developing heart failure, but the findings are not so consistent.
There have been many earlier studies linking regular eating of nuts with a lower risk of heart disease or stroke and associated death. However, it was not clearly established which particular aspects of cardiovascular disease are associated with nut consumption.
Findings of the study
People who ate nuts regularly were:
- better educated had healthier lifestyles
- less likely to smoke
- less likely to have high blood pressure
- ate more fruit and vegetables
- 4983 heart attacks, of which 917 were fatal
- 3160 cases of heart failure
- 7550 cases of atrial fibrillation
- 972 cases of aortic valve narrowing
- 983 abdominal aortic aneurysms (a bulge or swelling in the aorta, a major artery)
- 3782 cases of stroke caused by a blood clot (ischaemic)
- 543 caused by a brain bleed (intracerebral haemorrhage)
However, when many risk factors were accounted for, mainly lifestyle, general diet, diabetes, and family history, only links with atrial fibrillation and with heart failure emerged.
The findings showed the more frequently the nuts were included in the diet so much lower was the associated risk of atrial fibrillation. Eating one serving of nuts one to three times every month was associated with a reduced risk of just 3 percent. Eating nuts once or twice a week lowered the risk by 12 percent. Eating nuts more frequently, three or more times a week lowered the risk 18 percent.
For heart failure, the findings were less consistent. They were moderate, but not high, and weekly nut consumption was associated with a 20 percent lower risk.
The study is important because of its large size and a large number of cardiovascular disease cases reported during the monitoring period.
Nuts are rich in healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants. All these are heart healthy.
"Nut consumption or factors associated with this nutritional behavior may play a role in reducing the risk of atrial fibrillation and possibly heart failure," the research team observed.
"Since only a small proportion of this population had moderate (about 5%) or high (less than 2%) 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 population."the research team suggested.