Two recent studies report that eating nuts and fatty fish reduce heart disease risk.
The U.S. Physicians' Health Study, published in the June 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed the dietary habits of 21,454 male physicians for an average of 17 years. Researchers found that the men who ate nuts at least twice a week lowered their risk of sudden cardiac death by 47 percent and reduced risk of coronary heart disease death 30 percent, compared with those who didn't eat nuts.
The researchers concluded that this boost to heart health could come from the alpha-linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in many nuts that helps regulate heart rhythm. Previous research has found that nut consumption protects against heart disease.
The second study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also examined fatty acids' effect on cardiovascular health. Researchers at the Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, discovered that omega-3 fatty acids reduce hardening of the arteries, which decreases blood flow and increases risk of hypertension and heart disease.
Researchers gave study participants with high cholesterol either 3g of eicosapentaenoic acid or docosahexaenoic acid or a placebo pill for seven weeks. The arteries of those who took EPA became 36 percent more elastic and the arteries of those in the DHA group increased elasticity by 27 percent. The placebo group experienced no change.
EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 9/p. 5