People who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease compared to people who never or almost never eat nuts, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study is the largest to date looking at frequency of nut consumption in relation to incident cardiovascular disease.
Recently, dietary recommendations have shifted toward diets including higher quantities of plant-based foods over animal-based foods, with most dietary patterns including nuts because of their association with reduced cardiovascular risk factors and unique nutritional composition.
While many past studies focused on nut consumption as a whole, researchers in this study also looked at the association between specific types of nuts — peanut butter, peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts – with major cardiovascular events. Peanuts were included even though they are actually a legume because they have a similar fatty acid and nutrient profile as other nuts.
The study looked at over 210,000 people, including women from the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II and men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, with up to 32 years of follow up. In all three groups, information about medical history, lifestyle and health conditions were collected via self-administered questionnaires every two years.
The primary endpoint of the study was major cardiovascular disease, defined as a combined endpoint of myocardial infarction, stroke or fatal cardiovascular disease. Secondary endpoints were total coronary heart disease, defined as fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarction, and total stroke, which included all fatal and non-fatal strokes. Researchers documented 14,136 cardiovascular disease cases, including 8,390 coronary heart disease cases and 5,910 stroke cases.