Regular consumption of tree nuts can protect against metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, two new studies from Canada reveal.
Almonds, Brazil nuts, coconuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pecans, chestnuts, pine nuts and cashew are considered to be tree nuts. Peanuts are not originally nuts and belong to the family of peas and lentils.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders like obesity and high blood pressure that occurs together, increasing the risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes and stroke. Some risk factors include elevated levels of blood sugar or blood pressure; excess fat around waist; high triglycerides (a kind of fat found in the blood) and low good cholesterol.
In the first study, a team of Canadian researchers looked at 2,000 people part of 49 trials. People who possessed at least three of the above risk factors were considered to be suffering from metabolic syndrome. People in the study consumed about 50 grams of nuts every day.
Eating tree nut instead of refined carbohydrates was associated with considerable reduction in both blood glucose and triglycerides levels. Interestingly, the high calorie food intake was not associated with any severe health outcomes.
"Fifty grams of nuts can be easily integrated into a diet as a snack or as a substitute for animal fats or refined carbohydrates," Dr John Sievenpiper, a physician and researcher at St Michael's Hospital, Canada, said in a news release.
The results of the first study have been reported in BMJ Open.
In the second study, Dr Sievenpiper and his team included 450 people from 12 clinical trials. Eating just two servings (one serving is ¼ cup or 30 grams) were effective in keeping blood sugar under control. "Tree nuts are another way people can maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the context of a healthy dietary pattern," Dr Sievenpiper, said.
The second study has been reported in journal PLOS ONE.
Lots of healthy-substances found in nuts make it one of the best disease-fighting foods in the world. Nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats, fibre, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol lowering substance, plant sterols and an anti-blood clot substance l-arginine, according to experts from the Mayo Clinic in the US. The presence of these substances helps nuts lower bad cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease, heart attack and prevent blood clots.