Optimal - The Blog

March 19, 2023

Your Heart Loves Nuts and Legumes

Nuts and legumes (dried beans) are plant-based foods that not only taste good and can enhance your favorite recipes but can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Research indicates that having a small handful of nuts or legumes two to six times per week can reduce: 

  • Blood pressure
  • Blood vessel health
  • Cholesterol
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Oxidative stress
  • Risk of myocardial infarction


For example, research has observed:


  • Decrease C-reactive protein
  • Decrease glycemic index of meals
  • Decrease insulin concentration
  • Support antioxidant activity


  • Decrease triglycerides, cholesterol (in the blood and liver), oxidative stress markers, atherosclerosis index, post-meal blood glucose, and coronary heart disease
  • Increased HDL and blood glutathione

Pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts 

  • Decrease total and LDL cholesterol, apolipoprotein B
  • Increase HDL


  • Decrease triglycerides, post-meal glucose, antioxidant status, and stearoyl-CoA desaturase activity (an enzyme that synthesizes triglycerides)

Consuming nuts and legumes together increases their health benefits and can reduce inflammation biomarkers and DNA damage in smaller portions when combined.

Together they provide fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols, arginine, phytosterols, carotenoids, tocopherols, and minerals, including magnesium, zinc, selenium, and potassium.

For example, almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are good sources of magnesium, while pistachios provide plenty of potassium and carotenoids. Just one Brazil nut per day can increase blood levels and improve glutathione peroxidase. However, more than one Brazil nut per day may provide too much selenium, so they should be limited.

So, add nuts and legumes to your Super Salad, stir fry, snacks, and more, and your heart will thank you!


Souza, Rávila G M et al. “Nuts and legume seeds for cardiovascular risk reduction: scientific evidence and mechanisms of action.” Nutrition reviews vol. 73,6 (2015): 335-47. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuu008

Tag(s): Biomarkers

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