By TAP Integrative

Nuts were one of the many targets of the “war on fat” that began in the 1970s. Because of their high fat content, they were on the do-not-eat list of those seeking to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. But now research is showing that nuts are an answer to cardiovascular disease, not the cause of it.

Nuts are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients. Epidemiologic studies have shown that they’re associated with reduced risk of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, some short-term trials have found that nut consumption has positive effects on markers of cardiovascular disease, including LDL cholesterol.

Since nuts have many components that are known to protect against inflammation, some research has focused on whether or not nuts themselves have an effect on inflammatory biomarkers. Results have been inconsistent and inconclusive, though, due to study limitations such as small sample size, short duration, and confounding factors. In some large studies, frequent nut consumption was associated with lower concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). However, these studies only offered a snapshot of a single point in time, so they did not measure habitual intake.

In an effort to provide a more complete picture of the association between nut consumption and inflammation biomarkers, researchers analyzed cross-sectional data from more than 5,000 participants without diabetes in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). Using food frequency questionnaires and plasma biomarkers taken over the course of multiple years, the researchers looked at the relationships between nut consumption (including peanuts) and the biomarkers CRP, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2). They also looked at what happened when people substituted nuts for animal protein, refined grains, and potatoes.

The study, published in 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that a greater intake of nuts was associated with lower levels of CRP and IL-6. In addition, substituting 3 servings of nuts per week for 3 servings of red meat, processed meat, eggs or refined grains was linked to lower CRP and IL-6. No significant associations were found between TNFR2 and nut consumption.


Reference

Yu Z, Malik VS, Keum N, et al. Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;104(3):722-728.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease