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Paul A. Davis, Mazda Jenab, John P. Vanden Heuvel, Terence Furlong, and Steve Taylor. Tree Nut and Peanut Consumption in Relation to Chronic and Metabolic Diseases Including Allergy. J. Nutr. 2008 138: S -1762. Available free at www.nuthealth.org
The New and Emerging Research session highlighted the emerging understanding of both the positive and negative effects of nuts consumption on health. The limited nature of both experimental and epidemiological evidence for positive relationship(s) between nut intake and health were noted. Study inconsistency and limitations, particularly survey methodology, were explored. Recent results from epidemiologic studies indicating a potential negative association between nut and seed intake and cancer risk were reviewed. The ability of walnuts to reduce endothelin suggests an interesting biochemical mechanism of nut action that may affect other endothelin-associated diseases, which should be further explored. The effects of nuts and their constituents on a nuclear receptor screen (PPAR , β/ , , LXR , β, RXR , β, , PXR, and FXR) have been explored. Nut allergenicity and approaches necessary to minimize this effect were also described. In contrast to the positive effects, nut allergies present tree nut-allergic consumers with health challenges. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network stressed the importance of ensuring that consumers with food allergies have legible, accurate food labels. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act has engendered precautionary, worst-case allergen scenario labeling statements with unknown benefits to consumer health. Issues of cross-contamination due to shared equipment and shared facilities highlighted the need to rely on allergen control programs that use ELISA technology and have increased understanding of nut allergens. Ultimately, to maximize the positive benefits of nuts, the consumer must be provided with all the information required to make an informed choice.