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Want to boost your heart health? Eating a handful of nuts and seeds can help you reduce the risk of heart disease by 25 per cent, according to a new study.
The study showed nuts lower cholesterol levels and are linked to a lower risk of cardio-vascular disease. By eating nuts, you reduce your risk of suffering or dying from a heart attack.
One of the reasons is the composition of fatty acids in nuts, the researchers said.
"Even though nuts cannot be used to treat high cholesterol, we believe that the effect is significant enough to be used as a preventive measure amongst the general population," Erik Arnesen, research fellow at the University of Oslo said.
Researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 60 previous studies.
"If you eat a handful of nuts every day, that is around 30 grams, you will have a 20 to 25 per cent lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease. Many people do not eat nuts or seeds at all," Arnesen said, in the paper published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research.
Arnesen emphasised that even though scientists say "the more the better", eating just a few nuts is better than none at all.
Almonds, pistachios and walnuts appear to be the best for lowering cholesterol, but according to Arnesen there is so far no conclusive evidence for recommending specific kinds of nuts over and above others.
"Nuts have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels in the blood, which is important to keep low in order to prevent the build-up of fat in the arteries. This atherosclerosis, as it is called, is one of the greatest risk factors for heart attacks," he explained.
However, the researchers were uncertain whether eating nuts reduces the risk of strokes and diabetes Type 2.
"We are not sure about this. Nuts do not appear to affect blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors behind strokes. We cannot be sure whether nuts are good for blood sugar levels either, which are linked to the risk of diabetes Type 2," Arnesen said.