Nuts and peanut butter may reduce heart attack risk

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Taking nuts and peanut butter in the diet reduced the risk of a heart attack in women with type 2 diabetes, revealed by researchers at Harvard Medical School. They analyzed the diets of 6309 women over a period of 12 years.

Tricia Li and colleagues of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health carried out this research. The study was funded by the National Institute of Health in the US and was published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The study found that, in women who were free from heart disease at the start, high consumption of nuts and peanut butter reduced the risk of developing heart disease or strokes during the follow-up period.

This study examined the association between nut intake and coronary heart disease (CHD) events, such as heart attack, in women with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that:

– Women who ate more nuts were more physically active and smoked less than those who ate fewer nuts.

– Women who ate at least five servings of nuts a week generally had higher intakes of polyunsaturated fat, red meat, fruits and vegetables, and total energy.

– Reduced levels of LDL ?bad’ cholesterol were seen in those women who ate at least five servings of nuts a week. This was only true of those women who had blood samples available, which was around one-fifth of participants. Levels of HDL ?good’ cholesterol were not increased.

The researchers concluded that frequent nut and peanut butter consumption was associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease in women with type 2 diabetes.

Although nuts are high in monounsaturated ?good’ fats, they are still very high in overall fat and calories and should not be eaten in excessive daily amounts.

In response to this study, UK’s British Heart Foundation cardiac nurse Ellen Mason said:

“It is beneficial to include nuts in our diets as they are low in the saturated fats that raise our cholesterol. However peanut products can be full of added sugar or salt so check the label first as this may cancel out their positive benefits. Also don’t forget that nuts are high in overall calories. Eating more of one food in isolation will not make much difference to your health if you are inactive and don’t have a balanced diet. Unfortunately preventing heart disease is more complicated than just eating peanuts.”

Source: Havard Medical School, USA

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