Heart disease is the number one killer of Australian men and women and is responsible for around 22,000 deaths every year.
But a new study has revealed that a Mediterranean diet, which includes fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, whole grains and nutritious fats including nuts reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 28% and in particular the risk of stroke by 46%, according to new findings by one of the world's largest and longest dietary intervention studies. The research also found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil also reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 30%.
One of the key researchers Prof Jordi Salas Salvado, said the main message was people who consume healthy plant based fats from mixed nuts and extra virgin olive oil had a lower risk of coronary events and mortality by cardiovascular diseases.
"We recommend 30g of nuts a day, which is around a handful, as this is the amount of nuts that we have consistently demonstrated beneficially effects heart disease risk factors,” said PREDIMED co-investigator Dr Emilio Ros
"Increasing nut consumption is very important. I think Australia should strive for the majority of the population to eat a handful of nuts a day, not only for protection from heart disease but diabetes, hypertension, and other general health problems."
The PREDIMED findings follow last week's release of the new Australian Dietary Guidelines, which for the first time distinguished between 'good' and 'bad' fats calling on
Australians to switch unhealthy saturated and trans fats for healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and avocados3.
The modeling documents that underpin the new Guidelines also highlighted that Australian adults needed to increase their nut consumption by 350% to meet the recommended handful (30g) of nuts.4
"It is satisfying to see that the NHMRC Australia Dietary Guidelines now acknowledge the important role nuts play in the diet,” said Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nuts for Life Program Manager Ms Lisa Yates. “This latest revision of the dietary guidelines puts the final nail in the coffin of low-fat diets as the preferred option for a healthy diet. At last healthy fat foods are back on the menu."
A good way to include nuts in your diet on a daily basis is to sprinkle some over your cereal or salad, soak almonds in water overnight and enjoy as a snack, or keep a jar of unsalted nuts as a handy snack.
Nuts for Life is the Australian tree nut industry's nutrition education initiative. For more tips on including nuts in your diet, recipes and nutrition information visit www.nutsforlife.com.au
*when compared to a control diet
Control diet (advise to reduce dietary fat)
Mediterranean diet supplemented with virgin olive oil (additional 50 ml per day); or
Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 g mixed nuts per day (15 g walnuts, 7.5 g almonds and 7.5 g hazelnuts).