Just a handful of nuts, eaten two or more times a week, could be an effective way to cut the risk of heart disease, according to a study from the US.
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, led by Dr Christine Albert, looked at more than 21,000 male doctors who have been participating in the US Physicians' Health Study, first launched in 1982.
Albert's team wanted to assess whether nuts, which are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet known for being the most heart-healthy, could help cut the risk of heart disease when consumed on their own. Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats, magnesium and vitamin E.
They discovered that the participants in the study who consumed at least an ounce of nuts twice a week had a 47 per cent lower risk of death by cardiac arrest than those who ate no nuts at all. The nut eaters were also shown to have a 30 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease.
However, there was no correlation for cases of non-fatal heart attacks.
There were 201 sudden cardiac deaths and 566 heart disease deaths among the study subjects over the 17 years they were tracked, Albert said.