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Top Five Nuts for Heart Health and Fighting Prostate Cancer


A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine discussed a comparison of vegetable fat and animal fat intake and its effect on men with prostate cancer. It is a long held belief that unsaturated fats and oils are more heart healthy, especially compared to saturated fats and trans fats. But could the unsaturated fats lower the risk of fatality in men with prostate cancer?

The study was conducted by the University of California and Harvard, and it looked at 4,577 men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer from 1986 – 2010 who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The subjects completed dietary questionnaires at selected intervals and factored adjusted risk for the lethal prostate cancer groups. What they found was “the adjusted risk of lethal prostate cancer was 16 percent higher among those whose animal fat intake was among the top 20 percent in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest 20 percent. In contrast, having an intake of vegetable fat that was among the top 20 percent was associated with a 35 percent lower risk.” They further noted that when cause of death was looked at, the subjects that consumed the highest amounts of animal fats had a 19 percent greater risk of fatality than the group that consumed the highest amounts of vegetable fats who had a 35 percent lower risk.

Lead researcher Dr. Erin Richman concluded the study by saying, “Overall, our findings support counseling men with prostate cancer to follow a heart-healthy diet in which carbohydrate calories are replaced with unsaturated oils and nuts to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality.”

What I think the takeaway is from this study is that a lifestyle of heart-healthy nuts and oils is extremely important to maintain a healthy body in the short and long-term. That is why I have advocated the Mediterranean style diet as it stresses these components as part of the eating plan. The Mayo Clinic believes that all nuts can have healthy properties, but five of their top recommended nuts are:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans