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Nut consumption and cardiovascular risk factors: A cross-sectional study in a Mediterranean population

Relja A, Miljković A, Gelemanović A, Bošković M, Hayward C, Polašek O, Kolčić I.
Nutrients. 2017 Nov 28;9(12). pii: E1296. doi: 10.3390/nu9121296

Nuts are often considered beneficial for health, yet few studies have examined determinants of their intake and the associations between nut consumption and various cardiovascular disease risk factors. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with nut intake in a Mediterranean population, in Croatia, and to investigate the association of nut intake and various cardiovascular risk factors.

METHODS: Subjects from the Island of Vis, Island of Korčula and the City of Split were included in this cross-sectional study (n = 4416 in total; 4011 without known cardiovascular disease). Survey responses, medical records and clinically relevant measurements were utilized. Multivariate ordinal and logistic regression models were used in the analysis, adjusting for known confounding factors.

RESULTS: As low as 5% of all subjects reported daily, and 11% reported weekly, nut consumption. The characteristics associated with more frequent nut intake were female gender (Odds ratio (OR) = 1.39; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19-1.62), highest level of education (1.42; 1.15-1.76) and material status (1.58; 1.29-1.93), smoking abstinence (1.21; 1.04-1.42 in never-smokers and 1.22; 1.02-1.46 in ex-smokers), Mediterranean diet adherence (1.87; 1.62-2.15), and absence of central obesity (1.29; 1.09-1.53), absence of diabetes (1.30; 1.02-1.66) and metabolic syndrome (1.17; 1.01-1.36). Subjects who consumed nuts had more favourable waist-to-height (overall p = 0.036) and waist-to-hip ratios (0.033), lesser odds of elevated fibrinogen (p < 0.001 in both weekly and monthly nut consumers) and reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (p = 0.026), compared to non-consumers.

CONCLUSIONS: It appears that frequent nut consumption is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle and better socioeconomic status. A beneficial association of nut intake with cardiovascular risk factors was confirmed in this study.