Nuts are a snack food staple found in bars and baseball stadiums, atop sweet ice cream sundaes and inside savory party mixes. But did you know that many nuts (when unsalted) can also be heart healthy?

In a large 2017 study on nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers found that only a few small servings of nuts in your diet weekly can help keep your heart in optimal health.

The study analyzed more than 200,000 individuals and found those who consumed five or more servings of nuts per week had a 14-percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20-percent lower risk of coronary artery disease than individuals who almost never consumed nuts in their diet.1

Nuts are packed with heart-healthy nutrients

Nuts (including peanuts, which technically aren’t nuts – they are legumes often mistaken for nuts, but were included in the above study) have not always been thought of as a healthy snack option. This is because nuts were thought to be too high in fat. Turns out though, it’s primarily the good kind of fat.

Most nuts contain moderate amounts of unsaturated fats, the fats that can lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) while raising HDL cholesterol (the good kind).2 

In addition, certain kinds of nuts, like walnuts, contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids, while normally attributed to oily fish or fish oil supplements, provide several heart-healthy benefits, including maintaining healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, promoting cardiovascular health, and helping to maintain normal blood pressure.*

Nut consumption is also believed to have a positive impact on reducing visceral adiposity – the unhealthy fat in the abdomen that can surround vital organs.2 Carrying excess abdominal fat can contribute to metabolic syndrome and higher rates of heart disease.

Many nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, and technically-not-nuts peanuts, are also high in vitamin E, a vitamin that numerous clinical studies have shown is beneficial to the cardiovascular system.*

Nuts like cashews, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are also high in magnesium, a mineral that promotes healthy heart muscle function.*

In addition, many nuts are packed with fiber and protein, making them a well-rounded healthy snack option.

Healthy Mixed-Nut Recipe 

In honor of heart health month, here is a mixed-nut recipe to try. What makes this recipe heart-friendly, besides the nuts, is that it incorporates spices that also contribute to heart health. The recipe includes the spices cayenne pepper and garlic powder. 

Although the recipe is straightforward, when it comes to the spices, feel free to tweak to your taste. 

Time and servings

  • ~20 minutes
  • Yields: About 4 servings 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of unsalted mixed nuts
  • 1½ teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin (more/less to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne (more/less to taste)
  • ½ tablespoon of garlic powder 
  • Salt, to taste (optional) 
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 280 degrees F.
  • Mix nuts, oil, and spices together. Add to a greased pie pan or baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes. Let cool, then serve and enjoy!

Looking for other heart-healthy tips? 

We have exciting news. Thorne’s heart-healthy formula LipoCardia® II is almost here. LipoCardia II, which replaces the former LipoCardia formula, contains bergamot and curcumin phytosomes, which provide cardiovascular support for maintaining healthy cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels, as well as normal inflammatory responses in the blood vessels.* Stay tuned for more information about the LipoCardia II launch. 


References

  1. Guasch-Ferré M, Liu X, Vasanti S, et al. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol 2017;70(20):2519-2532.
  2. Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients 2010;2(7):652-682.