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Tree nut consumption associated with lower body weight and lower risk of obesity

Published on June 30, 2015 at 1:05 PM • No Comments

In a study published this week in Nutrition Journal, researchers compared risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome of tree nut consumers versus those who did not consume tree nuts. Tree nut (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) consumption was associated with lower body mass index (p=0.004), systolic blood pressure (p=0.001), insulin resistance (p=0.043) and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (good cholesterol) (p=0.022). In addition, tree nut consumers were 25% less likely to be obese and 21% less likely to have an elevated waist circumference than those who did not consume tree nuts.
The study looked at 14,386 men and women (19+ years) participating in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Intake was from 24-hour recall data and tree nut consumers were defined as those who consumed ¼ ounce or more per day. "Approximately 6.8% of the study population consumed tree nuts," stated Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, RD, lead author on the paper and Professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. "While that may sound small, it actually represents over 12 million individuals--a significant number." She added, "Those who consumed nuts ate about 1.5 ounces (44.3 grams) of tree nuts per day--similar to the amount recommended in the FDA qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease."
Research has shown that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The latter is a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and includes elevated blood lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity. Obesity is also a risk factor for these two diseases and although tree nuts contain fat and calories, numerous studies have shown that diets "enriched with nuts" do not increase weight. Filled with plant protein, dietary fiber, and healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, tree nuts are a satiating food that may actually help suppress appetite. Moreover, previous research by the same authors, showed that tree nut consumption was associated with better nutrient adequacy for most nutrients that are lacking in the diets of many Americans, and with an overall better diet quality.
"Now that summer is here and people tend to be more active outside, tree nuts are a great, portable snack to take to camp, the beach or on a hike," states Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF). "Just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (about 1/3 cup) can give you many of the important vitamins, minerals and energy you need throughout the day." Moreover, according to the 2011-2012 What We Eat in America/NHANES survey, snacks provided about 25% of daily calories. Choosing more nutrient-dense snacks, such as tree nuts, can have a positive impact on health.
Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D.
Executive Director
International Tree Nut Council
Nutrition Research & Education Foundation
2413 Anza Avenue
Davis, CA  95616
Ph: 530-297-5895
Web: nuthealth.org
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Tree Nut Benefits For Those With Diabetes

By Jacqueline Marshall, Jun 23, 2015

You need to heed your doctor’s dietary advice and make diabetes management a priority, but do not avoid eating nuts just because you think they cause weight gain.

Research indicates the opposite is true, that consuming nuts regularly promotes weight loss, and is associated with heart health and a reduced risk for diabetes.

Pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts contain an amino acid called l-arginine, known to support cardiovascular health. Plus, those who partake of nuts tend to have lower blood pressure and fewer metabolic syndrome risk factors (e.g., abdominal fat, high fasting glucose).

Tree Nut Nutrition
Macadamias and Pecans
Tree nuts generally contain a good balance of healthy fats, quality protein, and carbs. Pecans and macadamia nuts, for instance, each provide high levels of healthy fat with smaller amounts of carbs and protein.

More than half of the fatty acids in macadamia nuts is the heart healthy monounsaturated fat oleic acid—comparable to the beneficial fat content of olives. Macadamias are also a rich source manganese, magnesium, and thiamin.
Luscious pecans are bursting with 19 plus minerals and vitamins, and research suggests they help lower LDL cholesterol and support arterial health.

Walnuts, Almonds
Snacking on a quarter cup of walnuts gives a day's worth of omega-3 fatty acids, plus plenty of copper, manganese, and biotin. The walnut’s skin, though some people find it bitter, is dripping with antioxidants. To get the most from a walnut, we should eat them with the skin intact.

An almond’s skin is also full of antioxidants (e.g., phenols, flavonoids), those usually gotten from fruits and veggies. Just an ounce of these flavorful nuts gives us about the same amount of polyphenols (plant nutrients) as a cup of green tea.

Pistachios and More
People with diabetes can especially benefit from enjoying pistachios, though these nuts have more carbohydrate and less healthy fat than some others. The benefit comes from pistachios’ great store of lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Eating a serving or two each day also reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol in those with high levels.

Cashews are full of healthy fats as well, but like pistachios contain more carbs than other nuts. Pine nuts have about the same fat/protein/carb ratio as pecans and macadamias.
To get the most benefit from any tree nut, snacking on the raw and organic variety is recommended.

Healthy Odds
With diabetes, caution is the better part of wisdom. Before making any changes to a diet that is already managing your diabetes well, consult with your doctor.
Having said that, making tree nuts a regular part of your diet seems worth the expense and any dietary tweaking necessary. Nuts not only give us valuable nutrients they may add years to our life.

“Even those who ate nuts less than once a week had a seven percent reduction in risk [of dying for any reason]," reported the Washington Post about a 30 year Harvard study on nut consumption. "Consuming nuts at least five times a week corresponded to a 20 percent drop in mortality risk for heart disease, a 24 percent decline for respiratory disease and an 11 percent drop for cancer."

Source: mercola

Nuts for Nuts: New Research Suggests Nuts Improve Cognitive Function, Decrease Women's Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Nuts are a popular snack among the growing number of consumers seeking natural, nutrition-packed and convenient options. While nuts already have a wealth of research to support their various health benefits, two recent studies suggest nuts can improve cognitive function, when combined with the Mediterranean diet, and decrease risk of colorectal cancer in women.

A recent article online by JAMA Internal Medicine found supplementing the plant-based Mediterranean diet with antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts was associated with improved cognitive function in a study of older adults in Spain.

The randomized clinical trial included 447 cognitively healthy volunteers (223 were women; average age was nearly 67 years) who were at high cardiovascular risk and were enrolled in the “Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea" nutrition intervention.

Of the participants, 155 individuals were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with one liter of extra virgin olive oil per week; 147 were assigned to supplement a Mediterranean diet with 30 g/d of a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds; and 145 individuals were assigned to follow a low-fat control diet.

The authors measured cognitive change over time with a battery of neuropsychological tests and also constructed three cognitive composites for memory, frontal (attention and executive function) and global cognition. After a median of four years of the intervention, follow-up tests were available on 334 participants.

At the end of the follow-up, there were 37 cases of mild cognitive impairment: 17 (13.4 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group; eight (7.1 percent) in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group; and 12 (12.6 percent) in the low-fat control group. No dementia cases were documented in patients who completed study follow-up.

In addition, individuals assigned to the low-fat control diet had a significant decrease from baseline in all composites of cognitive function. Compared with the control group, the memory composite improved significantly in the Mediterranean diet plus nuts, while the frontal and global cognition composites improved in the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group.

A different study, published online this month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found women who consumed a 1-oz serving of nuts, including tree nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts),  two or more times per week had a 13 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer  (RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.72-1.05; P=0.06) compared to those who rarely consumed nuts.  

The study evaluated 75,680 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, with no previous history of cancer.  

Previous research has shown that women in this same cohort, who consumed a 1-oz serving of nuts two or more times per week, had a significantly reduced risk of pancreatic cancer (RR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.47-0.92; P=0.007) compared to those who largely abstained from nuts.

“These findings are very encouraging," said Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., executive director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF). “While we’ve known for years that 1.5 oz  (or 1/3 c) of nuts per day can help reduce the risk of heart disease, more and more research is showing the potential beneficial effect of nut consumption on other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer."

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