Handful of Nuts a Day Can Reduce Chronic Diseases

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Dagfinn Aune Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics School of Public Health Imperial College London St. Mary's Campus London  UK

Dr. Dagfinn Aune

Dr. Dagfinn Aune
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
School of Public Health
Imperial College London
St. Mary’s Campus London  UK

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that intake of nuts may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but the relation between nut intake and other diseases like cancer and stroke, and the relation with mortality and less common causes of death is not clear. Also it is not clear how much nuts are needed to reduce the risk.

So our current meta-analysis reviewed the data from 20 studies (29 publications) on nut intake and different health outcomes. We found that a nut intake of approximately one serving per day (28 g/d or a handful) was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (by 30%), total cancer (15%), all-cause mortality (22%) and mortality from respiratory disease (50%), diabetes (40%), and infections (75%), although there were few studies in the latter three analyses. We found that most of the benefit was observed up to an intake of around 20 grams per day. Similar results were found for total nuts, tree nuts and peanuts (which are botanically defined as legumes), but peanuts were also associated with reduced risk of stroke, while only tree nuts were associated with reduced cancer risk. We also calculated the number of deaths that potentially could be avoided, under the assumption that the observed associations are causal, and arrived at 4.4 million deaths in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific (unfortunately we did not have data on nut intake from West Asia and Africa so we were not able to include those areas).

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The take home message is that you can reduce your risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality quite significantly by simply eating a handful of nuts every day (unless you have a nut allergy of course).

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need more data on nut intake in relation to less common causes of death as well as specific cancers as the existing data is very limited to date. Further studies on different types of nuts and whether the nuts are raw or processed (salted, roasted, fried) are also needed as the studies so far have not distinguished between those.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Go nuts!

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies

Dagfinn Aune,NaNa Keum,Edward Giovannucci,Lars T. Fadnes,Paolo Boffetta,Darren C. Greenwood,Serena Tonstad,Lars J. Vatten,Elio Riboli and Teresa Norat

BMC Medicine201614:207 DOI: 10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3
5 December 2016

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Last Updated on December 10, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD