Research and knowledge on the effects of the consumption of nuts on human health has increased in recent years, suggesting that nut consumption may play a key role in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), among others.
Some chronic diseases are accompanied by a state of low-grade of inflammation which influences the progression and development of the disease. Changes in this inflammatory state can be identified via inflammatory biomarkers, for example C-reactive protein. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. This recent systematic review and meta-analysis, published in BMJ Open journal, examined the effect of nut consumption on inflammatory biomarkers and endothelial function[i].
Thirty-six articles describing 32 studies were included in this review. In the studies, nuts were consumed in either prescribed doses (18 to 85g/day) or as a percentage of dietary energy, so that the amount of nuts provided to each subject was different.
The study found evidence for favorable effects on flow mediated dilation, a measure of endothelial function. These findings align with a review conducted by the European Food Safety Authority in 2011 to substantiate the health claim: “Walnuts contribute to the improvement of the elasticity of blood vessels“. There was however a lack of consistent evidence on inflammatory biomarkers.
The study concluded that including nuts within a healthy dietary pattern may have favorable effects on endothelial dysfunction, which is associated with cardiovascular disease.
“This research helps to identify the mechanisms by which nut consumption may contribute to reduced cardiovascular disease risk in the context of a heart healthy diet. It adds to the scientific evidence which is built upon with continued research,” said Prof. Linda Tapsell and her colleague, Dr. Elizabeth Neale at University of Wollongong (Australia), both Principal Investigators of this research.
This study was supported by the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.