Researchers found that study participants who ate
the most tree nuts — such as almonds, Brazil nuts, pistachios and
walnuts — were between 37 and 46 percent less likely to be obese
than those who ate the fewest tree nuts.
People who ate the most nuts were also less likely to have a suite
of risk factors known as metabolic syndrome, which is tied to
increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
"This is another study that shows there is an association between
eating nuts and not being obese and having less tendency to have
metabolic syndrome," Dr. Joan Sabaté told Reuters Health.
Sabaté is the study's senior author from Loma Linda University in
The study, which was published online in PLOS ONE, was partially
funded through a grant from the International Tree Nut Council
Nutrition Research and Education Foundation (INC NREF).
In another recent study, also funded by INC NREF, researchers found
that people who reported eating the most nuts were less likely to
die over a 24-year period than those who ate the fewest nuts (see
Reuters Health story of Nov. 20, 2013, here:
While such evidence can't show that nuts cause the differences seen
between people who love them and those who pass them by, there are
reasons to believe nuts provide a direct benefit, Sabaté said.
For example, nuts are high in unsaturated fat, which is known as a
"good" fat compared to the saturated fat found in animal products.
The high protein content of nuts may also lead people to feel fuller
and eat less unhealthy foods. They also contain of host of other
nutrients and plant chemicals that are beneficial to health, Sabaté
For the new study, the researchers used data on the diets of 803
Seventh-day Adventist men and women in the U.S. who were already
enrolled in another study.
Overall, those who ate a lot of tree nuts — about 16 grams (half an
ounce) per day — were just a little over normal weight, on average,
compared to those who ate few or no nuts and were seriously
overweight or obese.
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A normal body mass index (BMI) — a measure of weight in relation
to height — for an adult falls between 18.5 and 24.9, according to
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight
people have BMIs between 25 and 29.9 and a BMI of 30 or more is
People in the study who ate the most nuts averaged BMIs of about 27
while those who ate the least — less than 5 grams of tree nuts per
day — averaged BMIs of 29 to 30.
The researchers also found that one-third of the participants in
the study had metabolic syndrome, which is defined as having three
or more conditions associated with heart disease and diabetes risk.
(Those include being obese, having high blood pressure and high
cholesterol, and having a large waistline).
For every 1-ounce serving of tree nuts consumed per week, however,
a person's risk of having metabolic syndrome dropped by 7 percent.
Jeffrey Blumberg, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University in
Boston who was not involved in the new research, said it is
consistent with a number of previous studies showing that including
nuts in one's diet is beneficial.
"It really is at a point now where I think there is a large body of
evidence and is — I would even say — a consensus of nuts being a
healthful food choice if consumed in reasonable amounts," Blumberg
online Jan. 8, 2014
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