Consuming tree nuts could help lower metabolic syndrome, obesity risk

By Liji Varghese | Updated: Jan 09, 2014, 17:56 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: According to a latest study consumption of tree nuts such as almonds, cashews and walnuts may significantly lower cases of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health studied the nut consumption of 803 adults using a validated food frequency questionnaire and assessed both tree nut and peanut intake together and separately.

The study funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation looks at the the association between tree nut consumption, metabolic syndrome (MetS), and obesity in a population with a wide range of nut intake ranging from never to daily.

Average tree nut intake was 16 grams per day among the high tree nut consumers, and five grams per day among low tree nut consumers.

The study showed that one serving (28 grams) of tree nuts per week was associated with seven percent less metabolic syndrome and doubling the intake could potentially reduce MetS risk by 14 percent. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of multiple metabolic risk factors shown to be associated with death, a twofold increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and a fivefold increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

In addition to the effect of nuts on MetS, the researchers also looked at the effect on obesity. Nuts are energy-dense foods high in total fat thus perceived as fattening. However in short-term dietary intervention studies, nuts do not appear to contribute to weight gain.

"We found that high tree nut consumers had significantly lower prevalence of obesity compared to the low tree nut consumers," stated lead researcher Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, DrPH. Nut consumption has also been found to improve blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease

The study was published in the online science and medicine journal, PLOS ONE.