Obesity And Metabolic Syndrome Risk Lower With Tree Nut Consumption
January 10, 2014

Study Links Tree Nut Consumption To Reduced Risk Of Obesity

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Consuming tree nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts can help reduce a person’s risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS), according to new research appearing in Wednesday’s edition of the journal PLoS ONE.

Lead researcher Dr. Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, an assistant professor in the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, and her colleagues recruited 803 Seventh-day Adventist adults. The researchers analyzed the study participants using a validated food frequency questionnaire, assessing both their tree nut and peanut intake together and separately.

The mean intake of tree nuts (which also include Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios) was 16 grams per day among high consumers, and five grams per day among low consumers. They found that overall one one-ounce serving of tree nuts each week was associated with seven percent lower metabolic syndrome rate, and that doubling the amount consumed could potentially reduce MetS risk by 14 percent.

“Interestingly, while overall nut consumption was associated with lower prevalence of MetS, tree nuts specifically appear to provide beneficial effects on MetS, independent of demographic, lifestyle and other dietary factors,” Dr. Jaceldo-Siegl added. Furthermore, they also found that high tree nut consumers had “significantly lower prevalence of obesity” compared to the low tree nut and low peanut/tree nut groups.

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a cocktail of risk factors that have been found to be associated with death, a twofold increase for the risk of cardiovascular disease and a fivefold increase in type 2 diabetes incidence. The diagnostic criteria that comprise MetS vary but typically include the presence of at least three of the following: abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

In November 2013, a prospective study published online in the British Journal of Cancer found that consumption of tree nuts was inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer. Also, a separate paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine that month reported that regularly eating walnuts or cashews could reduce a person’s risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and other causes.

“All of this new research supports the growing body of evidence showing that consuming nuts can improve your health,” said Maureen Ternus, Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF), which funded the study. “In 2003, FDA (in its qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease) recommended that people eat 1.5 ounces of nuts per day – well above current consumption levels – so we need to encourage people to get their handful of nuts every day.”