Weekly Health Update:
Nuts, Diet & Obesity
By, Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
The information in this column is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or recommendations by the author. Please consult with your physician before making any lifestyle or medication changes, or if you have any other concerns regarding your health.
Welcome to Weekly Health Update
“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”
NUTS, DIET & OBESITY
In last week’s column, I reviewed recent research suggesting a role for walnuts in reducing elevated cholesterol levels. Based upon some of the comments that I received from readers regarding this “walnut column,” I will present some additional favorable new health research findings on nuts in this week’s column.
Hard-shelled nuts tend to be rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids (luckily, the majority of the fat content in hard-shelled nuts is in the form of heart-healthy unsaturated fats), and in plant sterols. As I discussed last week, these compounds help to lower the level of LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) in the blood.
The Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in fish, whole grains, nuts, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables (and low in red meat and highly processed foods), has repeatedly been shown to decrease the risk of the top two causes of premature death throughout the world (cardiovascular disease and cancer). However, some health experts have expressed concerned about the relatively high fat content of nuts, and the possibility that daily nut consumption might lead to an increased risk of obesity. Fortunately, a newly published prospective public health study suggests that the moderate intake of nuts, in combination with the Mediterranean Diet, is actually associated with a decreased risk of obesity.
The current issue of the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases includes the findings of the Mediterranean “PREDIMED” prospective public health study, which enrolled 847 older men and women, with an average age of 67 years. The diets and activity levels of these patient volunteers were carefully evaluated in this study, and all of these elderly volunteers underwent clinical examinations to determine their waist circumference, and their body mass index, or BMI (a measure of body fat content that is adjusted for both height and weight).
After correcting for other dietary and lifestyle factors associated with obesity in these patient volunteers, the data from this study revealed that increased nut intake was associated with both a decreased BMI and decreased waist circumference. For every serving of 30 grams of nuts consumed, waist circumference decreased by 2.1 centimeters (approximately 1 inch), and BMI was reduced by 0.78 (kilograms per meter-squared) in these patient volunteers. Increased vegetable intake was also associated with a decreased waist circumference, as well. (Not surprisingly, meat intake was significantly associated with an increase in both BMI and waist circumference.) Moreover, these findings were observed in both male and female study participants.
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, and peanuts (which are, technically, not nuts, but which have a nutritional profile similar to hard-shelled nuts) are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other heart-healthy nutrients. Because these nuts do contain a significant number of “healthy fat” calories, however, nuts should be consumed in moderation, as with all fat-containing foods. Currently, most experts recommend that 30 to 45 grams (1 to 1.6 ounces) of nuts be added to our daily diet to maximize the health benefits of these delicious nutritional treats!
To learn more about nuts and the Mediterranean Diet as part of a comprehensive, evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, look for the publication of my new book, “ A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the spring of this year.
I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month. As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.
Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physicianbeforemaking any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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(Anticipated Publication Date: May 2010)
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Copyright 2007 - 2010
Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS
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Dr. Wascher's Archives:
2-28-2010: Soy Isoflavones & Recurrent Prostate Cancer
2-14-2010: Pancreatic Cancer Risk, Sodas & Juice
1-31-2010: Concord Grape Juice Improves Memory
1-24-2010: Mozart, Music, Babies & Health
1-17-2010: Breast Cancer, Physical Therapy & Lymphedema
1-3-2010: Ginkgo Biloba, Memory & Cognitive Health
12-20-2009: CT Scans & Cancer Risk
11-29-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
11-22-2009: Genistein (Soy Isoflavone) & Prostate Cancer
11-15-2009: Breast Cancer Treatment & Chronic Pain
1-8-2009: Vitamin D & Breast Cancer Risk
11-1-2009: Exercise & Prostate Cancer Risk
10-25-2009: HPV Virus & Risk of Breast Cancer
10-11-2009: Vitamin D & Falls in the Elderly
10-4-2009: Surgery, NSQIP, Complications & Death
9-27-2009 Stress, Heart Disease, Exercise & Death
9-20-2009: Vitamin D & Colorectal Cancer Survival
9-13-2009: H1N1 Swine Flu Update
9-7-2009: Green Tea, Aging & Lifespan
8-30-2009: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diet & Fiber
8-23-2009: Update on Prostate Cancer and Cryotherapy
8-2-2009: Honesty, Dishonesty & Brain Function
7-26-2009: Coronary Artery CT Scans & Cancer Risk
7-12-2009: Breast Cancer & Metformin (Glucophage)
7-5-2009: Prostate Cancer & Green Tea
6-21-2009: Red Yeast Rice, Statins & Cholesterol
6-7-2009: Diet, Soy & Breast Cancer Risk
5-31-2009: Diet and Prostate Cancer Risk
5-24-2009: Diabetes, Glucose Control & Death
5-10-2009: Hemorrhoids & Surgery
4-26-2009: Are We Really Losing the War on Cancer?
4-19-2009: Exercise in Middle Age & Risk of Death
4-12-2009: Can Chronic Stress Harm Your Heart?
3-15-2009: Depression, Stress, Anger & Heart Disease
10-26-2008: Smoking & Quality of Life
10-19-2008: Agent Orange & Prostate Cancer
10-12-2008: Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Cancer
9-21-2008: Does Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Cause Asthma?
4-27-2008: Stents vs. Bypass Surgery for Coronary Artery Disease; The “DASH” Hypertension Diet & Cardiovascular Disease Prevention; Testosterone Therapy for Women with Decreased Sexual Desire & Function
4-6-2008: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Pap Smear Results & Cervical Cancer; Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Infection & Oral Cancer; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) & the Risk of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
12-16-2007: Honey vs. Dextromethorphan vs. No Treatment for Kids with Night-Time Cough, Acupuncture & Hot Flashes in Women with Breast Cancer, Physical Activity & the Risk of Death, Mediterranean Diet & Mortality