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The snack that’s GOOD for your heart, according to doctors

The snacks are hailed for their high levels of fibre, protein and vitamins. 

But tucking into nuts and seeds daily may also be good for the heart, a study by scientists in Sweden and Norway suggests.

Eating a handful, or around 30g, of the mixture per day is linked to lower levels of cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, according to the review involving nearly 2million people.

And it slashes the risk of suffering or dying from a heart attack or stroke by a quarter, according to the University of Oslo and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm team.

But they note that not many people eat this amount of nuts and seeds a day. Brits eat just 6g of nuts and seeds per day, while Americans eat just 1g, on average. 

Image shows a trail mix of nuts and dried fruit. According to researchers at the University of Oslo and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, almonds, pistachios and walnuts appear to be the best nuts to eat when it comes to lowering cholesterol

The researchers reviewed 60 studies, which included 1.9million participants, to determine whether there was a link between nut and seed consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The study, published in the journal Food and Nutrition, was carried out to contribute to new Nordic dietary guidelines.

Results show that those who had a ‘high’ seed and nut consumption, of around 30g, were 19 per cent less likely to suffer cardiovascular disease and 23 per cent less likely to die from it, compared to those who only ate ‘low’ levels.

Nut and seed fanatics were also 18 per cent less likely to suffer from heart disease and 25 per cent less likely to die from it.

Erik Arnesen, a research fellow at the University of Oslo and first author of the study, said: ‘If you eat a handful of nuts every day, that is around 30g, you will have a 20 to 25 percent lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease.

‘In comparison, adults in the Nordic countries only eat on average around 4 grams of nuts a day. Many do not eat nuts or seeds at all.’

Almonds, pistachios and walnuts appear to be the best nuts to eat when it comes to lowering cholesterol.

But study author Mr Arnesen insisted that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that people should be recommended to eat certain types of nuts over others.

Instead, he suggests eating ‘the more the better’ when it comes to snacking on nuts.

However, the NHS advises eating them in moderation, as they are high in fat and calories.

Mr Mr Arnesen said that nuts have a beneficial effect on cholesterol, so prevent the build-up of fat in the arteries, which is one of the biggest risk factors for heart attacks.

However, the researchers were unable to confirm whether eating nuts cut the risk of type 2 diabetes and strokes, as the snacks did not appear to affect blood pressure or blood sugar levels.

Mr Arnesen said: ‘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.’

One of the reasons why the researchers believe nuts are so good for you is due to the composition of fatty acids in nuts.

Mr Arnesen noted that while previous studies have suggested that eating nuts are good for the heart, his study is the biggest review so far on cardiovascular health.  

Mr Arnesen 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.’