Nuts for Heart Protection
by Shashi Agarwal MD
almost never consumed nuts. Similarly the Harvard Nurses' Health Study showed
that women who consumed more than five ounces of nuts a week lowered their risk
of heart disease by 35%, compared with women who rarely ate nuts. Another study
done at Harvard's School of Public Health found that eating nuts at least twice a
week reduced the risk of having a second heart attack by 25% among 4,000 people.

Nuts are beneficial in many ways. The major mechanism appears to be through their
beneficial effects on blood lipids because of their high levels of mono and poly
unsaturated fats. Substituting saturated fats with unsaturated fats helps lower the
bad cholesterol LDL and triglycerides. Many nuts are also rich in arginine. Arginine is a
precursor of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels in the body relax. Nitric oxide
can also prevent the platelets from sticking together to form the harmful blood clots
within the arteries of the heart and the brain - resulting in a heart attack or a stroke.
Walnuts are particularly high in α linolenic acid (about 10% of weight) which is a
precursor of omega-3 fatty acid, and is thought to protect against heart disease by
preventing blood clots and life threatening irregular heart beats. Finally, nuts are also
rich in magnesium, copper, selenium, folic acid, vegetable protein, potassium, fiber,
phytochemicals and antioxidants like vitamin E - all known for their heart protective
benefits.

In 2003 FDA approved some labels to print this message, "Scientific evidence
suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as peanuts,
as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart
disease. See nutrition information for fat content." The beneficial nuts are almonds,
hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pignola pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. Some nuts
contain higher amounts of saturated fats and may not be heart protective. These
include brazil nuts, macadamias, cashews, and pinyon pine nuts because they contain
3 to 5 grams of saturated fat per ounce. Coconut and palm nuts should also be
consumed in a limited fashion, again because of their high content of saturated fats.

Remember nuts are high in calories - so restrain from overeating them. To avoid
obesity, substitute nuts for something else. Also beware of an acute allergic reaction
to peanuts - and to a lesser extent brazil nuts, almonds and hazelnuts. This can be
life threatening, especially in young children..

So have a handful (10 to 15) of nuts daily, especially walnuts and almonds and help
your heart stay healthy.


About The Author

Shashi K. Agarwal, MD is a Board Certified cardiologist with a private practice in New
York and New Jersey. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Holistic
Medicine and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Eating a handful of a variety of nuts 5
times a week can greatly reduce your
risk of getting a heart attack. This has
been consistently established in
several large scientific studies over
the last few years. In the Adventist
Health Study, a 50% reduced risk of
coronary heart disease was noted in
subjects who consumed nuts 5 times
per week when compared to those
who never consumed nuts. In the
Iowa Women's Health Study, the
relative risk of death from a coronary
event in women who consumed nuts
2-4 times per week was only 43%
when compared with those who
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