The body of evidence about nuts and health continues to grow. These local and international research papers, recently published, corroborate decades of research about the importance of a regular handful of nuts in a healthy diet.

Barriers and facilitators to nut consumption: A narrative review. (2020).

A low intake of nuts (and seeds) is one of the leading risk factors for death and disability adjusted life years in many countries. Despite this, most people do not meet current recommendations for nut intake. This research explores why. The researchers discuss common barriers to intake, such as confusion about the effect of nuts on body weight, perceptions that nuts are high in fat, or too expensive, and challenges due to dentition issues or nut allergies.

Dietary patterns and cognitive health in older adults: Findings from the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study. (2020).

This Australian study found healthy dietary patterns, including the Mediterranean and DASH diets, and greater consumption of nuts and legumes were linked with better cognition among older adults. The well-known population-based, cross-sectional Sydney Memory and Ageing Study involved 819 older Australians, aged 70–90 years.

Association of total nut, tree nut, peanut, and peanut butter consumption with cancer incidence and mortality: A comprehensive systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. (2020).

This newly-published review collated the findings from 52 published papers. It found a protective association between total nut and tree nut intake and the risk of cancer and its mortality. A 5g/day increase in total nut intake was linked with a 3%, 6% and 25% lower risk of overall, pancreatic, and colon cancers, respectively. For cancer mortality, the researchers found an 18% risk reduction with higher intakes of tree nuts. In addition, a 5g/day increase in total nut intake was linked with a 4% lower risk of dying from cancer.

Adolescent alcohol, nuts, and fibre: Combined effects on benign breast disease risk in young women. (2020).

This prospective cohort study followed 9,031 females, aged 9-15 years at baseline (1996-2001), until 2014. The researchers hypothesised that consuming nuts/nut butter may lessen the elevated risk of benign breast disease (BBD) – a risk factor for breast cancer – among adolescents who drink alcohol. They found that that those who consumed both alcohol and nuts had a lower risk (RR = 0.47, 95% CI: 0.24–0.89; p = 0.02), compared to drinkers who didn’t eat nuts. The researchers concluded that for high school females who drink, their BBD risk may be offset by consuming nuts. Future studies are needed in this area.

Red meat intake and risk of coronary heart disease among US men: Prospective cohort study. (2020).

New research suggests replacing red meat with high-quality plant foods may help men reduce their risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Compared with red meat, intake of one serving per day of combined plant protein sources, including nuts, legumes and soy, was linked with a 14% lower risk of CHD. This research is part of the well-known Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The findings are based on data from 43,272 US men, without cardiovascular disease at baseline.

Association of the Mediterranean Diet with onset of diabetes in the Women’s Health Study. (2020).

This research suggests the Mediterranean Diet may be protective against diabetes by improving insulin resistance, lipoprotein metabolism, and inflammation. The large, prospective Women’s Health study followed 25,317 women for 20 years. Researchers linked a higher baseline Mediterranean Diet intake with a 30% reduced risk of future diabetes.

A prospective study on total protein, plant protein and animal protein in relation to the risk of incident chronic kidney disease. (2020).

This study, involving 1,639 adults, explored the link between total protein, plant protein, and animal protein and the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). It found no significant association between total protein and animal protein intake and incidence of CKD. However, study participants in the highest tertile of plant protein intake had a 71% reduced risk of CKD, compared with those in the lowest tertile. The researchers conclude that protein source, more so than quantity, may be key in shaping CKD risk.


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