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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

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No.35 (December 20, 2016)

with Dr. James Meschino

 

Research Topic: 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

Source: Journal: Biomedical Central, December 5, 2016

 
The research paper I am reviewing today was published on December 5, 2016, in the journal Biomedical Central. The title of the paper was,”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”.

For many years, I discouraged my patients from eating nuts because of their high fat content. Even though nuts contain healthy fats, I just felt that eating nuts too regularly would contribute to weight gain, and weight gain is a risk factor for many health conditions.

But in recent years my mind has been changed by the flurry of studies showing that eating the equivalent of a handful of nuts per day – about 2 tablespoons or 20 grams (gm) of nuts, is associated with a significant reduction in heart disease and other health conditions. The analysis of all current studies, as reported in the December 5, 2016, issue of the journal Biomedical Central, yielded some very eye-opening results. The key findings were that 20gm a day of nut consumption– equivalent to a handful — can cut people’s risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30 percent, their risk of cancer by 15 percent, and their risk of premature death by 22 percent. Consuming an average of at least 20g of nut consumption daily was also associated with a reduced risk of dying from a respiratory disease by about a 50%, and diabetes by nearly 40 percent, although the researchers note that there is less data about these diseases in relation to nut consumption.

In total, the researchers reviewed 29 available studies that looked at nut consumption and disease risk. They concluded, ”higher nut intake is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections”.

How does the consumption of nuts protect us against these diseases? The researchers point out that nuts are a rich source of magnesium, polyunsaturated fats and fiber – nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk and cholesterol levels. Some nuts, such as walnuts and pecans, are also high in antioxidants, and some studies have shown that walnuts, in particular, are highly protective against heart disease and cancer.

Note that consuming more than 20gm per day of nuts was not associated with any further health benefits and that the extra fat calories may, in fact, increase weight gain. So, I like the idea of having a handful of nuts per day. I added it to my daily wellness checklist in recent months due to the emerging evidence showing that regular nut consumption is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, all-cause mortality and other health conditions. I suggest that you consider doing the same, and when possible, make your nut of choice, walnuts.  When looking at all the research on nuts, walnuts show the strongest protective effect in some very well-designed studies. But other nuts are also beneficial.
So, I’ll conclude by saying “You can’t go wrong by going a little nutty every day.”

I’ve included a link to the research papers in the text below.

References:

  1. http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161205090555.htm
  3. http://acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=33097

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great!

Dr. Meschino

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