Atrial Fibrillation (or afib) is a condition that involves an irregular heart rate, generally caused by poor blood flow. It can put you at an increased risk of stroke or even heart failure. Things like high blood pressure, excessive caffeine intake, sleep apnea, and coronary artery disease can all be possible causes.
The good news is that there are changes you can make in your diet to reduce your risk, and we are going to look at the role nuts play when it comes to reducing your risk of atrial fibrillation and other heart-related issues.
The benefits of eating nuts
Nuts are rich in healthy fat, provide a good source of dietary fiber and plant-based protein, and just one single serving per day can significantly help protect your heart, prevent atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease.
A one-ounce serving size of nuts contains an average of 160-200 calories, and 80-90 percent of those calories come from fat. However, the fat found in nuts come in the form of unsaturated fats which can help reduce cholesterol and support heart health.
Prioritizing heart health
Taking control of your heart health means being mindful of the foods you eat. Nuts can make a great addition to a healthy diet as they are a great source of healthy fat and plant-based protein.
Here are additional reasons nuts help support cardiovascular health:
- Nuts may be able to help lower LDL cholesterol levels which is the cholesterol connected to plaque buildup on artery walls. Nuts may also be able to help boost the health of arterial walls.
- Adding more nuts to your diet may also help combat the inflammation that is known for causing heart disease.
- Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help promote heart health and reduce inflammation.
- Adding nuts to your diet increases your intake of dietary fiber which plays an important role in reducing LDL cholesterol levels, and can help you maintain a healthy weight… both of which support cardiovascular health.
- Nuts contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats which are the fats we want more of in our diet. They are the fats that can help prevent heart disease and support cardiovascular health.
What is the research showing?
A study found eating nuts each week can help reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation. Those who consumed nuts three or more times per week were associated with an 18 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation. The study found that the more nuts were added to the diet, the lower the chance of atrial fibrillation.
The reasoning behind this may be linked to the fact that nuts contain antioxidants, healthy fats, as well as essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium which all play a role in supporting cardiovascular health.
Another extensive study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology analyzed over 210,000 people who reported their eating habits and general health status over a 32-year period. The result of this massive study found the participants who ate nuts every day had a lower risk of both cardiovascular and coronary artery disease.
What kind of nuts should you add to your diet?
When it comes to what kind of nuts to add to your diet, studies have shown that it really doesn’t matter all that much when it comes to supporting heart health as one nut has not been shown to be more heart-healthy than another. However, some nuts like walnuts are going to give you the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids whereas almonds would not.
Here are some nuts you can easily find in grocery stores and may want to consider adding to your diet.
- Macadamia nuts
How to add nuts to your diet
- Make a homemade trail mix
- Add to salads for an added crunch
- Toss into smoothies
- Enjoy with a bowl of oatmeal
- Add slivered almonds or pecans to a cup of unsweetened yogurt
- Make homemade nut butter using almonds or cashews
- Enjoy as an easy on-the-go snack
One of the great things about nuts is that they can be found in just about any grocery store and can easily be added to a healthy diet all year. You can also mix up the kind of nuts you enjoy for added. So, get creative and find ways to enjoy your daily serving of nuts.