People Who Regularly Eat Nuts Have Lower Risk of Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Nuts” by fdecomite is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD
Research Fellow
Department of Nutrition. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
655 Huntington Ave, Building 2
Boston, Ma, 02115 

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

Response: Although previous evidence has shown that frequent nut consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk factors including dyslipidaemia, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; as well as with lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); most of the previous prospective studies have focused on total nut consumption in relation to the risk of CVD. However, the associations between peanut butter and specific types of nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, with major cardiovascular events, and specifically the relation with stroke were unclear. Of note, because the nutritional composition of peanuts and walnuts differs from other nuts, it was of particular interest to evaluate the health effects of specific types of nuts. Therefore, our main aim was to look at several types of nuts including total nut consumption, peanuts, walnuts, and tree nuts.

Briefly, in three large prospective cohorts with up to 32 years of follow-up, people who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease compared to people who never or almost never eat nuts. We found a consistent inverse association between total nut consumption and total cardiovascular disease (14% lower risk for those consuming nuts five or more times per week) and coronary heart disease (20% lower risk).

Also, after looking at individual nut consumption, eating walnuts one or more times per week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 21 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. Participants who ate peanuts or tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15 percent and 23 percent, respectively, lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never consumed nuts.

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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).

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Nuts May Lower Odds Of Metabolic Syndrome In Adolescents

Dr. Roy Kim, MD Depts. Endocrinology and Pediatrics UT Southwestern Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Roy Kim, MD
Depts. Endocrinology and Pediatrics
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Medical Research: What was the problem you were focused on?

Dr. Kim: We were focused on the problem of adolescent metabolic syndrome, a major public health problem. Our objective was to determine whether nut intake is linked with any difference in odds for metabolic syndrome in US adolescents.

Medical Research: How is metabolic syndrome defined?

Dr. Kim: In general it is diagnosed when there are 3 or more of the following things: increased belly fat, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose, elevated triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol.

Medical Research: How did you do your study?

Dr. Kim: We used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), years 2003-2010, to examine health status and the diet history for 2,322 US adolescents age 12 to 19 years.

Dr. Kim: Our first major finding was that adolescents who ate at least 12.9 grams of nuts per day – this is the equivalent of about 1 ounce of nuts 3 times per week – had a dramatically lower odds for metabolic syndrome compared to adolescents who ate less than that amount. The odds for nut-consumers was only about 43% of the odds for non-consumers. This remained true after controlling for age, gender, race, income, and dietary factors including sugar, fruit, and vegetable intake.

Our second major finding was that average nut intake is very low among US adolescents – only about 5 grams per day – and more than 75% of US adolescents eat no nuts at all on a typical day.

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Diabetic? Tree Nuts May Help Control Your Blood Sugar

Effie Viguiliouk M.Sc. Candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences University of TorontoMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Effie Viguiliouk
M.Sc. Candidate, Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Toronto

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Effie Viguiliouk: This systematic review and meta-analysis of the totality of evidence from 12 randomized clinical trials in 450 participants with type 2 diabetes found that eating about 1/2 a cup of tree nuts per day (equivalent to about 60 g or 2 servings) significantly lowered the two key markers of blood sugar, HbA1c and fasting glucose, in comparison to calorically matched control diets without tree nuts.

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Pancreatic Cancer: Frequent Nut Consumption May Reduce Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
dr_ying_baoYing Bao, MD, ScD
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Bao: Frequent nut consumption is inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer in women, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer.

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