Eating nuts may reduce cardiovascular disease risk for people with diabetes

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Eating more nuts, particularly tree nuts, may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research in Circulation Research, an American Heart Association journal.

In the study, researchers found eating all kinds of nuts offered some heart-healthy benefits, with tree nuts showing the strongest association. The results also showed that eating even a small amount of nuts had an effect. Among their findings:

  • Compared to people with type 2 diabetes who ate little or no nuts per month, eating five servings of nuts per week had a 17 percent lower risk of total cardiovascular disease incidence, a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 34 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 31 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
  • Compared with people who did not change their nut-eating habits after being diagnosed with diabetes, those who increased their intake of nuts after being diagnosed with diabetes had an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 15 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 25 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause premature death.

Each additional serving per week of total nuts was associated with a 3 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 6 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death.

The positive association with eating nuts continued independent of a person’s gender, smoking habits or body weight.

Tree nuts such as walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts and pine nuts were strongly associated with reduced cardiovascular risk compared with peanuts, with are actually legumes because unlike tree nuts, peanuts grow underground.

While the exact biological mechanisms of nuts on heart health are unclear, researchers report that nuts appear to improve blood sugar control, blood pressure, metabolism of fats, inflammation and blood vessel wall function. Also, researchers explain that tree nuts may offer more benefits because they contain higher levels of these nutrients than peanuts.

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