November 15, 2019
Nuts & Cardiovascular Disease - Debunking The Low-Fat Diet Myths

Nuts & Cardiovascular Disease – Debunking The Low-Fat Diet Myths

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Nuts are probably one of the most controversial and wrongly villainized healthy plant-based food-groups of all time, when it comes to diet myths.

You will probably have heard all the claims about how eating nuts makes you fat or how nuts are supposedly meant to be bad for heart disease patients based on the claims of vegan proponent and cardiologist Dr Caldwell Esselstyn.

I am a massive fan of nuts and in particular walnuts when it comes to supporting cardiovascular health and feel they are a very powerful food for improving heart health via a variety of mechanisms from improving endothelial function, lowering total/LDL-cholesterol, improving lipid profile/reducing triglycerides, reducing some markers of inflammation and reducing some markers of oxidative stress for example.

Nuts (tree nuts and peanuts) are nutrient dense foods with complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty and other bioactive compounds: high-quality vegetable protein, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and phenolic compounds. [1]

One of the worst myths from the low-fat vegan diet community is the claim that nuts are potentially bad for heart health and patients with heart disease should avoid eating nuts completely.

There is now a massive body of scientific evidence which has shown that nuts are an excellent plant-based food-group for supporting heart health and higher intake of nuts is associated with good reductions in cardiovascular disease risk.

Of course, these low-fat vegan diet proponents have no science to support their claims that nuts are unhealthy for heart disease patients and as usual we are expected to put blind faith in their anecdotes.

Nuts Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease Via A Variety Of Different Mechanisms

Nuts & Cardiovascular Disease StudyA recent study review published 2018 on nuts and cardiovascular disease stated:

“There is compelling evidence showing that nut intake confers protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD).

We conducted a review of the literature with respect to observational studies and randomized trials completed in the past ≈25 years that examined nut intake and CVD endpoints.

We included findings from major cohort studies, a large intervention trial, and numerous smaller nut trials.

Collectively, data from observational and intervention studies indicate strong and significant association between nut intake and decreased risk of fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and sudden death; and somewhat weak association with stroke.

The primary mechanism by which nuts protect against CVD is through the improvement of lipid and apolipoprotein profile.

Increasing evidence also indicates that nut consumption may confer protection against CVD via lowering of oxidative stress, inflammation, and improvement in endothelial function.

Nut components, such as unsaturated fatty acids, l-arginine, beneficial minerals, phenolic compounds and phytosterols, appear to be of paramount importance for their health effects.” [2]

Higher Intake Of Nuts Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Higher Nut Intake Reduces Cardiovascular Disease RiskNumerous studies now indicate that higher consumption of nuts results in a reduction of developing cardiovascular disease.

“Consumption of peanuts and tree nuts (2 or more times/week) and walnuts (1 or more times/week) was associated with a 13% to 19% lower risk of total cardiovascular disease and 15% to 23% lower risk of coronary heart disease.”

The study concluded:

In 3 large prospective cohort studies, higher consumption of total and specific types of nuts was inversely associated with total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. [3]

If nuts are as unhealthy as these low-fat vegan diet “experts” claim them to be for heart health, then why does virtually every study find good reductions in cardiovascular disease risk with higher nut consumption?

As the research shows, nuts are a very powerful plant-based food-group for supporting cardiovascular health and preventing heart disease.

Nuts & Weight Gain

Nuts & Weight Gain StudyFinishing off lastly with the most common myth when it comes to nuts is the incorrect belief that eating nuts will result in significant weight gain or obesity due to the rich fat content and calories.

You will have likely heard the claims from the likes of vegan diet proponent Dr John McDougall author of “The Starch Solution” about how “the fat you eat, is the fat you wear.”

This is extremely out-dated low-fat diet dogma and current research has found that nuts actually result in better weight control, have a mild weight loss effect, reduce visceral adiposity(belly fat) and don’t significantly contribute to weight gain when consumed in sensible portions as part of a balanced diet pattern.

A recent meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials on nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity published in 2018 found:

Pooling of randomized trials indicated that nut consumption was related to a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference.

The meta-analysis concluded:

Nut consumption may be beneficial in the prevention of Mets and overweight/obesity. Additional prospective studies are needed to enhance these findings and to explore the metabolic benefits for specific subclasses of nut. [4]

As we can see from the current scientific evidence and randomized trials, nut consumption was related to significant reductions in body weight and other factors relating to obesity/metabolic syndrome.

This is just another claim from the low-fat vegan diet experts that doesn’t hold any weight and is completely non-evidence based.

Their advice of avoiding or purposely restricting nut intake to replace with more grains such as white rice may actually be counterproductive to individuals with obesity or those looking to lose weight in a healthy manner.


[1] Health Benefits of Nut Consumption

[2] Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease.

[3] Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

[4] Nut consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome and overweight/obesity: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized trials

The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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