Heart Health? Use Your Nut


Studies show nuts contribute to heart health

It’s well-known that nuts pack a nutritional punch, and now there’s clear evidence they have exceptional heart benefits too after a full review of over 100 academic studies.

The literature review, released by Nuts For Life Australia [1], concludes that a regular intake of nuts is associated with improvements in heart health, including coronary heart disease and lowering cholesterol.
Nuts are a unique wholefood with a wide range of cardio protective-nutrients including healthy fats, plant omega-3s and plant sterols. By eating a handful (30g) of nuts a day, as part of a healthy varied diet, consumers can be assured they are equipped with the nutrients that contribute to a healthy heart.

This is welcomed news for New Zealanders given over 40% of deaths are attributed to cardiovascular disease – making it one of our biggest health problems [2].
“While the nutrition community is well aware that nuts are packed with benefits, this literature review is very significant in collating the academic studies and demonstrating just how nuts contribute to heart health,” says New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietitian, Sarah Hanrahan.

Leading nutrition academic and review co-author Professor Linda Tapsell says, the contribution of nuts to a healthy diet can be easily underestimated.
“Nuts are often relegated to a snack food category and sometimes avoided by people trying to lose weight. The benefits of heart health were observed without any adverse effects on weight gain and outcomes were shown to be sustained for periods as long as 20 years,” says Prof. Tapsell.

“Like other plant foods, nuts deliver important components to the diet and as such, they can easily be front of mind alongside fruit, vegetables and grains,” she adds.
Different tree nuts have a variety of nutritional profiles, but studies have concluded that almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts all contain the beneficial nutrients for heart health [1].

Eating nuts regularly is one tasty prescription to lower blood cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy heart. Kiwis can celebrate their love for nuts on National Nut Day which falls in October every year.

[1] Nuts For Life systematic literature review on Nuts and Heart Health: A summary of the evidence 2015 reviews just over 100 studies conducted by academics from Landmark Nutrition and the University of Wollongong’s Smart Food Centre, Australia. For the full review, visit http://www.nutsforlife.com.au/resources/literature-reviews-summaries/
[2] New Zealand Nutrition Foundation ‘Nut’ Literature Review 2012 authored by New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. Contributors: Siew Ling Tey, BCApSc, MSc, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, Dr Rachel Brown, BSc, MSc, PhD, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand & Dr Alexandra Chisholm, Dip HSc, MCApSc, PhD, NZRD, Research Dietician, Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.