Whether you’ve adopted a vegan diet or not, let’s face it, the trend suggests plant-based diets are very much on the rise. The reasons why people have started ditching the meat and spiralising the zucchini differ, however in many cases it’s for health reasons with the understanding that the human body is engineered to digest and prosper using plant based foods.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests there’s even more research coming our way to re-enforce the practice of vegan diets for health betterment.
This time round nuts are under the microscope to understand their influence – for better or worse – on heart disease.
Heart disease is an umbrella term that encapsulates within it many different illnesses, including strokes, heart attacks and angina. If you live in the UK, there’s a strong chance heart disease has affected you either directly or indirectly, with 1.6m men and over 1m women living with Coronary heart disease (CHD) according to a stat reported by hearthealth.uk.org. This costs the UK economy £19 billion every year, and rates are rising.
Someone in the UK suffers from a heart attack every 7 minutes. hearthealth.uk.org
Heart disease can be defined as any medical condition which affects the function of the heart and typically involves a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels, which in turn restricts blood flow to the heart, and impairs the function of the organ.
Heart disease can be affected by genetics, but ever increasing rates of the disease – along with conclusive research – identify lifestyle factors as also being key contributing factors to heart disease, such as smoking, stress and diet.
Previous studies surrounding the health benefits of nuts haven’t segmented out different types of nuts and how they affect overall body health. This study was able to pinpoint the benefits of just peanut butter, peanuts (technically not nuts), tree nuts and walnuts. The study used data from over 210,000 people over a 32 year duration, running through a self-examination questionnaires every 2 years.
The main purpose of the data was to determine major cardiovascular disease rates, categorised by fatal CV disease, myocardial infarction and stroke and total coronary disease, defined as non-fatal and fatal myocardial infarction, and total stroke.
Findings reported over 14,000 cardiovascular disease cases, which included over 8,000 cases of coronary heart disease and 5,910 cases of stroke.
The data from the study found that subjects who consumed 5+ servings of nuts each week were 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and had 20% less risk of developing coronary heart disease. Interestingly the results didn’t differ too much when only looking at walnut, tree not and peanut consumption.
More research into the cardiac benefits of nut consumption is still necessary as the study did have some flaws: namely the reliance on self-reported data, where errors are fairly typical.