While nuts and various types of seeds make great alternative snack foods to enjoy between meals, their protein has the potential to enhance life. According to a study conducted by researchers in California and France that was published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, the protein from these two sources has plenty of benefits for the heart. The study, which compared people who consume large amounts of meat protein with those who got their proteins from nuts and seeds, found that the latter reduced their chances of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 40 percent.

The research team appreciated that while nutritionists have traditionally considered the effect of dietary fats on cardiovascular disease, proteins may have been overlooked as a pertinent risk factor. As such, their study sought to show that proteins play a role in increasing or reducing the risk of CVD, and in particular, that protein from nuts and seeds is key to a decrease.

The study’s findings confirm the views of those who advocate the benefits of plant proteins, including Michael Kern, Craniosacral Therapy teacher, author and long-term vegetarian.

Better Heart Health

In undertaking their research, the investigators from Loma Linda University, AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique added weight to the understanding that a diet inclusive of nuts and seeds can protect against heart disease. They also highlighted that their research differed from previous studies by choosing to compare meat protein with that from nuts and seeds, which was a more focused approach compared to the ‘plant versus animal proteins’ angle many other investigations have taken.

The researchers hope that their findings will open the door for further studies. According to researcher Gary Fraser there is an opportunity to uncover the particular amino acids in meat proteins that play a role in cardiovascular disease, and how cardiac risk factors are affected by proteins from particular sources.

Corroborating Evidence

Several large cohort studies, as reported by Harvard’s School of Public Health, give weight to the benefit of regularly including nuts in a diet, which includes a consistently lower risk of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death. Research has shown the unsaturated fats contained in nuts help increase good cholesterol levels while lowering bad cholesterol.