Nuts may prevent heart disease: new study to investigate peanuts

Published 12 August 2003

Several studies have shown eating a small amount of nuts every day could reduce the risk of heart disease. Researchers at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus are seeking volunteers to participate in a new study into the effects of eating red peanuts on hypertension or high blood pressure, which is often a precursor to heart disease.

The study is being carried out by the Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education and Research (ACCMER), which is a joint venture of the University of Queensland and Southern Cross University.

“Individuals with hypertension are three to four times more likely to experience heart disease, and untreated hypertension can lead to complications such as stroke and renal disease,” said ACCMER’s Clinical Trials Co-ordinator, Dr Joan O’Connor.

“There are several reports in the literature on the beneficial effects of nut consumption on heart disease and researchers have evaluated the positive effects of nut consumption on lipid (fat) and lipoprotein levels,” Dr O’Connor said.

“One study shows women who eat a small amount of nuts per week have a 35 per cent reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with women who rarely eat nuts.”

Nuts contain many beneficial compounds such as unsaturated fatty acids, low saturated fatty acids, plant proteins, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. They have been shown to contain high doses of vitamin E, which has a cardio-protective effect, and folic acid, as well as copper and magnesium, which relate to heart function and possibly hypertension.

The researchers are seeking 40 healthy people, men and women, with mild hypertension or high blood pressure, ie a diastolic blood pressure between 85-110mmHg and a systolic blood pressure below 160mmHg. In this study they are testing a traditional Chinese medication for hypertension: red peanuts soaked in vinegar.

Participants will eat 10 nuts a day before breakfast, for 28 days. They will need to attend the clinic at Southern Cross University once for screening, then about twice during the month-long study. People can continue to take blood pressure medication but would need to cease taking other herbal supplements such as vitamins and minerals during the trial.

For more information about the trial contact: Dr Joan O’Connor, Clinical Trials Co-ordinator, located at SCU, Ph: 6620 3649, or email:

Media contact: Sara Crowe or Kath Duncan, Media Liaison, Southern Cross University, Ph: 6620 3144, M: 0439 858 057.