The science behind a tree nut’s ability to improve your heart health is actually the result of their positive impact on your blood pressure, your body’s ability to metabolize dietary fat, your blood sugar levels, your body’s overall inflammation levels, and the well-being of your blood vessels.
Reducing your risk of these health issues helps reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by five risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and having a stroke.
The five risk factors include:
- increased blood pressure (greater than 130/85 mm Hg)
- high blood sugar levels (insulin resistance)
- excess fat around the waist
- high triglyceride levels
- low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL
For patients already living with type 2 diabetes, the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke is high. Taking steps to reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome means reducing your risk of these additional conditions.
Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed based on the combined five assessments of your waist circumference, fasting blood triglycerides, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar levels.
If your doctor is prescribing regular exercise, quitting smoking, and weight loss, then a daily serving of tree nuts should help, too.
“Tree nuts have shown consistently in research to reduce the inflammation markers for heart disease and diabetes, and they help to increase high-density lipoproteins that protect your heart,” Elisabeth Almekinder, RN, BA, CDE, a freelancer writer who specializes in diabetes and other health issues, told Healthline.
High-density lipoproteins are a combination of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins, explained Almekinder, also a member of The Diabetes Council.
Lipoproteins play a critical role in the absorption and transportation of dietary fats in your small intestine. They also transport beneficial cholesterol and triglycerides from your liver to other parts of your body.
Despite the health concerns surrounding cholesterol and triglycerides, your body does need certain amounts of both in order to produce certain hormones and bile in the liver. Cholesterol is also a key building block for basic human tissue such as skin and cartilage.
Nuts are a gold mine when it comes to healthy fats.
The dietary fat in nuts is primarily monounsaturated, which is known for its ability to help lower cholesterol and protect your heart, according to the Mayo Clinic.