Eat a Handful of Nuts a Day to Benefit Overall Health

Health In Focus   - G J E 4
  • Include nuts in your daily diet to lower the risk of chronic diseases
  • Intake of nuts five or more times a week reduced the levels of inflammatory biomarkers
  • Nut consumption also reduces the body mass index (BMI) and aid in weight loss
Higher intake of nuts was found to lower the levels of inflammatory biomarkers, according to a large cohort study. Previous studies have shown that higher consumption of nuts reduced the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. However, the link between greater nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers was unclear in earlier studies.
Eat a Handful of Nuts a Day to Benefit Overall Health
Eat a Handful of Nuts a Day to Benefit Overall Health

Nuts are nutrient dense foods that contain protein, fiber, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds. Common tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias and Brazil nuts. Peanuts also have a similar nutrient composition to tree nuts.

‘Nuts contain essential nutrients such as antioxidants, magnesium, fiber and unsaturated fatty acids. Eating more than five servings of nuts per week helps reduce inflammatory biomarkers.’
One serving of nuts (30 grams) is equal to 20 almonds, 20 hazelnuts, 10 whole walnuts, 15 cashews or 10 Brazil nuts.

Studies have shown that bioactive compounds in nuts, such as tocopherols, phytosterols, selenium and folic acid exhibit anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties.

Nuts Consumption and Inflammatory Biomarkers
In a cross-sectional analysis, researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed data from food-frequency questionnaires and plasma biomarkers on 5,013 participants in the two ongoing prospective cohort studies: Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

The results showed that higher consumption of tree nuts (5 or more times a week) was associated with lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers. C-reactive protein (CRP) and Interleukin 6 (IL6) are the two inflammatory biomarkers that increase in the body when there is inflammation, leading to chronic diseases. Replacing 3 servings of nuts per week for 3 servings of red meat, processed meat, eggs, or refined grains was associated with significantly lower levels of CRP and IL-6.

Higher levels of CRP in the body have been shown to predict the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Increased levels of IL6 has been linked to cardio-metabolic risk.

Ying Bao, senior author of the study, said,"Substituting three servings per week of tree nuts for three servings per week of red meat, processed meat, or eggs was associated with significantly lower CRP and IL6. Lower CRP concentrations were also observed when substituting three servings per week of tree nuts for refined grains."

The study also found the higher intake of nuts was associated with body mass index (BMI), which is also a determinant of inflammatory biomarkers. Previous studies have also shown that weight loss decreases the levels of inflammatory biomarkers. The current study also proves that nut consumption aids in weight loss and prevents the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

"This is yet another piece of evidence showing that people should include more nuts in their diet. Just a handful of tree nuts every day can result in numerous health benefits," said Maureen Ternus, Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation (INC NREF).

Ways to Include Nuts in the Diet
  • Nuts can be eaten raw, roasted or can be even added to dishes. But avoid eating nuts are that fried, salted or coated with chocolate.
  • Add chopped nuts to your cereal or a bowl of fresh salad.
  • Snack on a mix of raw nuts instead of other unhealthy foods such as chip and other fried foods.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Source: Medindia

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