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Use your nut for heart health

Nutrition Tip

posted by Research Admin 1 on 14 February 2020

Diabetes New Zealand, February 2020

People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than people without diabetes. The prevention and treatment of CVD by diet is an important issue both for people with diabetes and those without.  

Although rates of heart disease - cardiovascular disease (CVD) - are declining in many developed countries,  it remains the number one cause of death. Research reviewed by Nuts For Life showed people who regularly eat a handful of nuts absorb less fat, as the fibrous walls in nuts help stop the body from absorbing up to 20 per cent of the fat in nuts. Plus, the high amount of protein, fibre and unsaturated fats in nuts work hard to suppress hunger so you are likely to feel fuller for longer. Another benefit is that regular consumption of nuts boosts resting metabolic rates by 5-10 per cent. “It’s important people understand the difference between good fats and bad fats so they know that healthy-fat plant foods such as nuts are good for them, rather than thinking they are bad because you will gain weight,” New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietitian Sarah Hanrahan says. 

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. A small serving of nuts (unsalted, unroasted) four to five times per week has been observed to reduce the risk of CVD in population studies. A serve of nuts is equivalent to one dessert spoon of nuts. Intervention studies have shown that the addition of nuts to the diet can help to lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and improve a number of other indices related to CVD risk. 

Nuts & Seeds

> Non-roasted, non-salted nuts.

> Oven-bake or pan roast raw nuts and seeds at home. For additional flavour add lime juice and spices, such as paprika, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, low salt soy or cumin.

> Buy nuts in the shell, as having to crack them open slows down the amount you eat.

> Chestnuts are low in fat (2-7%).

> Most nuts contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and up to 30g per day or a small handful can form part of a heart healthy diet.

> To keep nuts in the best condition, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated up to 4 months and frozen up to 6 months.