In a study of more than 5,000 people, researchers have found that greater nuts consumption is associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, a finding that may help explain the health benefits of nuts.
Five or more servings of nuts per week or substituting nuts for animal proteins tied to a healthy profile of inflammatory biomarkers, the findings showed.
“Population studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and Type-2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases,” said corresponding author Ying Bao from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
“Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation,” Bao noted.
Previously Bao and her colleagues observed an association between increased nut consumption and reduced risk of major chronic diseases and even death, but few prospective cohort studies had examined the link between nut intake and inflammation.
In the current study, the research team performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes more than 120,000 female registered nurses, and from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which includes more than 50,000 male health professionals.
The team assessed diet using questionnaires and looked at the levels of certain telltale proteins known as biomarkers in blood samples collected from the study participants.
They measured three well established biomarkers of inflammation — C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL6) and tumour necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2).
After adjusting for age, medical history, lifestyle and other variables, they found that participants who had consumed five or more servings of nuts per week had lower levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 than those who never or almost never ate nuts.
In addition, people who substituted three servings per week of nuts in place of red meat, processed meat, eggs or refined grains had significantly lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, showed the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Peanuts and tree nuts contain a number of healthful components including magnesium, fibre, L-arginine, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids such as linolenic acid.