Tag Archives: nuts

Which Tree Nut Provides the Most Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

David Mendosa says the answer is the macadamia nut.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts

A great thing about the macadamia nut is that it’s one of the few nuts with a good omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio. In other words, it’s high in omega-3 and low in 6. This may have important cardiovascular health implications. Macadamias are one of the nuts I recommend in the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and  Paleobetic Diet.

David writes:

The first Australian macadamia plantation didn’t begin until the 1880s. And not until 1954 with the introduction of mechanised processing did commercial production became viable. Nowadays about 90 percent of the the world’s macadamia nut production comes from Hawaii, where it has become its third most important crop, according to The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, University of California at Berkeley (1992).

Read the rest, where you’ll learn that macadamia nuts are the highest of all nuts in calories, gram for gram.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts on the tree

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Filed under Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet, nuts, Paleo diet

Why Do I Recommend Nuts to All My Patients?

Nuts with more omega-3 fatty acids (compared to omega-6) may be the healthiest

Nuts with the lowest omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratios may be the healthiest. In other words, increase your omega-3s and decrease omega-6s.

Conner Middelmann-Whitney explains in her recent post at Psychology Today. In a nutshell, they are linked to longer life and better health. For example:

In the largest study of its kind, Harvard scientists found that people who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts. The study also found that regular nut-eaters were leaner than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should calm any fears that eating nuts will make you gain weight.

The report also looked at the protective effect on specific causes of death. “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America,” according to Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber, the senior author of the report and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But we also saw a significant reduction—11% —in the risk of dying from cancer,” added Fuchs.

Read the whole enchilada.

Nuts are integral to my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, Paleobetic Diet, and Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Walnuts seem to have the lowest omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio of all the common nuts. That may make them the healthiest nut. The jury is still out. Macadamia nuts also have a good ratio. Paleo dieters focus on cutting out omega-6s and increasing omega-3s. Julianne Taylor has a great post on how to do that with a variety of foods, not just nuts.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under cancer, coronary heart disease, Heart Disease, Longevity, nuts

Do Nuts Help Or Hurt Cholesterol Levels?

Mixed Nuts Improve Diabetes, Too

Mixed Nuts Improve Diabetes

Most of the diets I recommend to my patients include nuts because they are so often linked to improved cardiovascular health in scientific studies. Walnuts are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in women, and established type 2 diabetics see improved blood sugar control and lower cholesterols when adding nuts to their diets.

Nut consumption lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels, and if triglycerides are elevated, nuts lower them, too. Those changes would tend to reduce heart disease.

Conner Middelmann-Whitney has a good nutty article at Psychology Today.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH; Keiji Oda, MA, MPH; Emilio Ros, MD, PhD. Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels: A Pooled Analysis of 25 Intervention Trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010, Vol. 170 No. 9, pp 821-827. Abstract:

Background  Epidemiological studies have consistently associated nut consumption with reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Subsequently, many dietary intervention trials investigated the effects of nut consumption on blood lipid levels. The objectives of this study were to estimate the effects of nut consumption on blood lipid levels and to examine whether different factors modify the effects.

Methods:  We pooled individual primary data from 25 nut consumption trials conducted in 7 countries among 583 men and women with normolipidemia and hypercholesterolemia who were not taking lipid-lowering medications. In a pooled analysis, we used mixed linear models to assess the effects of nut consumption and the potential interactions.

Results:  With a mean daily consumption of 67 g of nuts [about 2 ounces or 2 palms-ful], the following estimated mean reductions were achieved: total cholesterol concentration (10.9 mg/dL [5.1% change]), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (LDL-C) (10.2 mg/dL [7.4% change]), ratio of LDL-C to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (HDL-C) (0.22 [8.3% change]), and ratio of total cholesterol concentration to HDL-C (0.24 [5.6% change]) (P < .001 for all) (to convert all cholesterol concentrations to millimoles per liter, multiply by 0.0259). Triglyceride levels were reduced by 20.6 mg/dL (10.2%) in subjects with blood triglyceride levels of at least 150 mg/dL (P < .05) but not in those with lower levels (to convert triglyceride level to millimoles per liter, multiply by 0.0113). The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels. The effects of nut consumption were significantly modified by LDL-C, body mass index, and diet type: the lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL-C and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets.

Conclusion:  Nut consumption improves blood lipid levels in a dose-related manner, particularly among subjects with higher LDL-C or with lower BMI.

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Filed under Heart Disease, nuts

Nutty Treatment for Diabetes

Mixed Nuts Improve Diabetes

Eating nuts improves blood sugar control and cholesterol levels in type 2 diabetics, according to a recent research report in Diabetes Care.

Canadian researchers randomized 117 type 2 diabetics to eat their usual types of food, but also to be sure to eat either

  •  mixed nuts (about 2 ounces a day)
  •  muffins (I figure one a day)
  • or  half portions of each. 

They did this daily for three months.  Compared to the muffin group, the full nut group ate quite a bit more monounsaturated fatty acids.  (I don’t have full study details because I have access only to the article abstract.)

Results

Hemoglobin A1c, a reliable measure of blood sugar control, fell by 0.21% in the mixed nut group.  That’s a move in the right direction.  LDL cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol” linked to heart and vascular disease, also dropped significantly. 

So What?

The investigators suggest that replacement of certain carbohydrates with 2 ounces of daily mixed nuts is good for people with type 2 diabetes.

I must mention that nuts are  a mandatory component of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet  and the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, and a recommended option on the Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Steve Parker, M.D.

References:  Jenkins, David J.A., et al.  Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic dietDiabetes Care, June 29, 2011.  doi: 10.2337/dc11-0338

PS: The lead author of this study is the same David Jenkins of glycemic index fame.

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Filed under ketogenic diet, nuts

Nuts Are Not Fattening

Dietitian Melanie Thomassian at her Dietriffic blog April 27, 2010, notes that nuts are not fattening, contrary to popular belief.  This is in a guest post by Matthew Denos.  Most of his references refer to almonds, so I’m not sure other nuts would be equally non-fattening. 

We’re talking about one or two ounces (up to 60 grams) a day.  Could someone gain fat weight eating more than that?  Probably, especially if they have a high-carbohydrate eating pattern.  Do I have scientific studies to back me up?  No. 

Nuts are characteristic of the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is one reason I included them in the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.  The other reason is that nut consumption is associated with lower heart disease risk.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under nuts, Overweight and Obesity

Walnuts: More Evidence in Favor of Health Benefits

MPj03095770000[1]Nuts are a time-honored component of the Mediterranean diet and may contribute to the lower risk of cardiovascular disease  associated with the diet. 

Regular nut consumption lowers total cholesterol and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) by 5 to 15%, which would tend to lower heart disease risk.  Walnuts are particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.

Bix over at Fanatic Cook links to three scientific studies showing that walnuts:

  • improved arterial function in people with type 2 diabetes
  • improved arterial function in people with high cholesterol eating a Mediterranean diet
  • decreased fasting insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes
  • decreased LDL cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes who were on a low-fat diet

The “dose” of walnuts in these studies was 1–2 ounces (28–56 g) daily.

For good reason, nuts have a prominent role in both the Advanced Mediterranean Diet and Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet

I don’t know Bix, but he or she seems to base many of his/her nutrition opinions on scientific principles, which I appreciate.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under coronary heart disease, Mediterranean Diet, nuts, Shameless Self-Promotion

Nuts: The Healthy Snack

MPj04031620000[1]Nut consumption is strongly linked to reduced coronary heart disease, with less rigorous evidence for several other health benefits, according to a recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This is why I’ve included nuts as integral components of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet and the Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Regular nut consumption is associated with health benefits in observational studies of various populations, within which are people eating few nuts and others eating nuts frequently.  Health outcomes of the two groups are compared over time.  Frequent and long-term nut consumption is linked to:

  • reduced coronary heart disease (heart attacks, for example)
  • reduced risk of diabetes in women (in men, who knows?)
  • less gallstone disease in both sexes
  • lower body weight and lower risk of obesity and weight gain 

The heart-protective dose of nuts is three to five 1-ounce servings a week.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Sabaté, Joan and Ang, Yen.  Nuts and health outcomes: New epidemiologic evidenceAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89 (2009): 1,643S-1,648S.

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Filed under Health Benefits, Mediterranean Diet, Prevention of T2 Diabetes