Eating Nuts May Reduce Obesity, Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar
Do yourself and your health a favor and go nuts! Scientists report that eating just 1 ounce of nuts per day can help reduce obesity, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Raw nuts can raise serotonin levels
Over the years, scientists have conducted a significant amount of research into the health benefits of eating nuts, and the results have been promising. Four major studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, reported that overall, coronary heart disease risk was 37% lower among people who ate four or more servings of nuts weekly.
These conclusions led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a qualified health claim in 2003, stating that people who ate 1.5 ounces of specific nuts (e.g., almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts) could reduce their risk of coronary heart disease.
Now a new study from scientists at the University of Barcelona and Rovira i Virgili University report that for the first time, they have uncovered a link between eating nuts and a higher level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in patients who have metabolic syndrome. Serotonin reduces feelings of hunger, enhances mood, and improve heart health.
Metabolic syndrome is a term used to describe a combination of metabolic risk factors that lead to cardiovascular disease. Although there are slight differences in the criteria of diagnosis depending on the authority quoted, generally the main features of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, abdominal obesity, and elevated fasting blood glucose.
Changes to diet can have a significant impact on the features of metabolic syndrome, and eating nuts may be one of those dietary modifications. Nuts are highly nutritious, containing antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats (monounsaturated fat).
In this latest study, investigators assigned 22 patients with metabolic syndrome to consume a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them with another group of 20 patients who were advised to not eat nuts.
Analysis of all the patients’ urine at the end of the 12 weeks showed an increase in serotonin metabolite levels in patients who ate nuts. The scientists noted that their finding provides the first evidence in humans that eating nuts can help reduce levels of substances associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in people who have metabolic syndrome.
According to this latest study, just one ounce of mixed nuts (e.g., raw unpeeled almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts) per day may help reduce obesity, blood pressure, and blood sugar, features associated with metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Going a little nuts each day could be a boost to your health.
Tulipani S et al. Journal of Proteome Research 2011; DOI: 10.1021/pr200514h
Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons
Updated February 19, 2016