Yet another major study has shown how eating nuts can protect us from heart disease and stroke.

This time US researchers in Harvard University's T.H.Chan School of Public Health analysed data from 210,000 health professionals over more than 30 years.

They found that those who eat an ounce of nuts at least five times a week has a 20 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 14 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease that can lead to heart attack of stroke.

This is just the latest in a string of major studies, stretching back to the 1990s, that have come to the same conclusion. If you eat nuts you are less likely to die from heart attacks and heart diseases.

So, striking is the evidence that the US Government's Food and Drug Administration is permitting approved nuts and nut products to carry the message 'Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease'.

Harvard experts have now produced guidance on just what it is in nuts that may account for their life-saving properties.

They conclude:

  • The unsaturated fats nuts contain help lower LDL(bad) cholesterol and raise HDL Cholesterol, the good kind. The Omega 3 fatty acids found in walnuts appear to prevent the development of erratic heart rhythms and blood clots.
  • Nuts are rich in arginine, an amino acid needed to make nitric oxide that relaxes constricted blood vessels and eases blood flow.
  • They also contain Vitamin E, folic acid, potassium, fibre and other health-giving nutrients.

But because no two kinds of nut contain the same mixture of nutrients the advice is to eat a variety as part of your daily intake. A good place to start is with our packs of mixed nuts.

The other advice for those who decide to begin regular nut eating is to make sure that they replace some other less healthy part of the diet to avoid weight gain. On average an ounce of nuts contains 185 calories.