Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 8th 2016 Contents B34 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Thursday, December 8, 2016
Nuts may cut heart disease, cancer risk
"People consuming at least 20 grams of nuts
daily are less likely to develop potentially fatal
conditions such as heart disease and cancer," The
Independent (UK) reports. That was the main
finding of a review looking at 20 previous studies
on the benefits of nuts.
Researchers found consistent evidence that a 28
gram daily serving of nuts---which is literally a hand-
ful (for most nuts)---was linked with around 20 per
cent reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and death
from any cause.
However, as is so often the case with studies into
diet and health, the researchers cannot prove nuts
are the sole cause of these outcomes.
It's hard to discount the possibility that nuts could
be just one component of a healthier lifestyle pattern,
including balanced diet and regular physical activity.
It could be this overall picture that is reducing risk,
not just nuts.
The researchers tried to account for these types of
variables, but such accounting is always going to be
an exercise in educated guesswork.
Also, many non-lifestyle factors may be involved
in any individual's risk of disease. For example, if you
are a male with a family history of heart disease, a
healthy diet including nuts can help, but still may
not be able to eliminate the risk entirely.
The link between nuts and improved health is nev-
ertheless plausible. Nuts are a good source of healthy
unsaturated fats, protein, and a range of vitamins and
minerals; unsalted nuts are the healthiest option.
The study was carried out by researchers from the
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in
Trondheim, Norway, Imperial College London, and
other institutions in the US.
It was funded by Olav og Gerd Meidel Raagholt's
Stiftelse for Medisinsk forskning (a Norwegian char-
itable foundation), the Liaison Committee between
the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and
the Norwegian University of Science and Technology
(NTNU), and Imperial College National Institute of
Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre
The study was published in the peer reviewed med-
ical journal BMC Medicine on an open-access basis,
so it is free to read online.
The study was a systematic review that aimed to
examine the link between nut consumption and risk
of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death.
Previous studies have suggested an intake of nuts
is beneficial, and some have found it could be linked
with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and can-
cer. Other studies though have found no link. The
researchers consider the possibility that there is a
weak link and that's what they aimed to look at.
Twelve studies (376,228 adults) found nut con-
sumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Each 28 gram/day serving was linked with a 21 per cent
reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This was for
any nut intake, but risk reductions were also found
when analysing peanuts or tree nuts separately.
Twelve studies also found a 29 per cent reduced
risk of heart disease specifically.
Nine cohorts (304,285 adults) found that one serv-
ing of nuts per day reduced risk of any cancer by 15
The researchers conclude: "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."
The systematic review has several strengths. It
identified a large number of studies with a large to-
tal sample size.
However, there were no randomised controlled trials
of nut consumption. All studies were observational
where people were choosing their own diet.
The researchers took care to include studies that
only looked at nut consumption as an independent
factor and looked at results that had adjusted for any
confounders. However, the factors that the studies
adjusted for, and how well they were assessed, will
have varied across studies.
As such it's very difficult to prove that nuts alone
are the causative factor and they are not just one
component of a generally healthier lifestyle pattern,
including balanced diet, regular physical activity, not
smoking, and moderating alcohol.
When it comes to frequency or quantity of intake,
it is likely there is an element of inaccuracy when
people report how much they eat. For example, most
people wouldn't weigh out how many nuts they're
eating each day. The review also provides limited
information about specific types of nuts.
Overall there does seem to be a link between nut
consumption and health, but nuts alone won't reduce
your risk of cardiovascular disease or cancers, if your
lifestyle is still generally unhealthy. (www.nhs.uk)
Nuts may be very
good for you,
once you are not
allergic to them!
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