Nuts and legume seeds for cardiovascular risk reduction: scientific evidence and mechanisms of action

Nutr Rev. 2015 Jun;73(6):335-47. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuu008. Epub 2015 Apr 16.


Consumption of tree nuts and legume seeds is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular risk. The reduction in blood lipids and in inflammatory and oxidative processes exhibited by bioactive compounds such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibers, phenolic compounds, tocopherols, phospholipids, carotenoids, some minerals, and arginine, has stimulated research on the mechanisms of action of these substances through distinct experimental approaches. It is, therefore, important to know the metabolic effect of each nut and legume seed or the mixture of them to choose the most suitable nutritional interventions in clinical practice. The aim of this narrative bibliographic review was to investigate the effects of tree nuts and legume seeds on biomarkers of cardiovascular risk, as well as their mechanisms of action with regard to lipid profiles, insulin resistance, arterial pressure, oxidative stress, and inflammation. The findings indicate that a mixture of nuts and legume seeds optimizes the protective effect against cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: cardiovascular risk; insulin resistance; legume seeds; lipids; nuts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipids / blood
  • Nuts / chemistry*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Lipids
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts