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Nuts and Health: Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Fiber, Fat and Nutrients

Updated on August 4, 2012

Coronary Heart Disease Concerns: Should You Be Upping Your Nut Consumption?

We all know about the wonders of fruit and vegetables. Depending on your country of origin, your government is probably already recommending you get your five a day or ten a day. (Maybe fifteen? Twenty?) This refers of course to servings of fruit and veg. All kinds of governmental and medical bodies extol their wonders and virtues, to the point that the rest of us can feel quite hounded and persecuted on the issue. Rather like smokers, those of us not meeting our fruit ‘n’ veg targets may soon find ourselves relegated to the ‘naughty stair’. At least that’s what it feels like!

But What About Nuts?

Regardless of any health benefits they may offer, nuts always feel like rather more of a naughty ‘treat’ than fruits and vegetables. After all, don’t they have a very high fat content? Add a little salt and some dry-roasted flavour (or hickory smoke, crunchy coating, chocolate coating, whatever!) and mm-mmm, they’re just naughty! Face it, when it comes to good nutrition peanuts are not the first thing that springs to mind.

Naughty Or Healthy?

But in fact it seems as if they may not be so very naughty after all. A study by Hu et al in the British Medical Journal, 1998, looking at CHD prevention and nut consumption, produces some interesting results. In a study of more than a thousand women, it was the dedicated nut-munchers – those getting through more than 5oz (140g!) a week, who had the lowest CHD (coronary heart disease) incidence. That’s in relation to the women in the study who ate little or no nuts – and even taking into account all other risk factors, like smoking, vitamin intake etc.

So, do you need to feel bad about knocking back a packet of roasted cashews, or hickory smoked almonds every once in a while? I certainly won’t: I'll just regard it as my little CHD prevention health routine! If you're nuts about nutrition then peanuts might be the way to go! Although I’m still not sure about those chocolate-coated peanuts… But that doesn’t mean I won’t be telling the other half that they qualify as health food!

References:

Hu, Frank B., Stampfer, M.J., Manson, J.E., Rimm, E.B., Colditz, G.A., Rosner, B.A., Speizer, F.E., Hennekens, C.H., Willett, W.C. ‘Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study.’ BMJ 1998;317:1341-1345 (25/10/2009.)

Dillner, Dr. L. 'Dr Louisa Dillner's guide to . . . curing hiccups'. www.guardian.co.uk 13/10/2009. (29/10/2009). <http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/13/how-to-cure-hiccups>

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