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Eating nuts may reduce inflammation

Eating nuts may reduce inflammation

Eating nuts such as cashews, almonds or pecans may help reduce inflammation, researchers claim.

In a study involving more than 5,000 people conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the U.S., it was found that a few servings of tree nuts was tied to a healthy profile of inflammatory biomarkers. High levels of these markers can make chronic issues such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes worse.

"Population studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases," said Dr Ying Bao. "Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation."

For the study, Dr Bao and colleagues analysed data from food-frequency questionnaires and plasma biomarkers on 5,013 participants in the Nurses' Health Study, which includes more than 120,000 female registered nurses, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which includes more than 50,000 male health professionals. The measured levels of fasting plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumour necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR 2) - all biomarkers for inflammation in blood samples collected from the participants. Accordingly, they found that those who ate five or more servings of tree nuts every week had significantly lower levels of CRP and Il-6 than those who didn't eat nuts. Further, those who substituted three servings of red meat, processed meat, eggs or refined grains with nuts every week had substantially reduced levels of biomarkers of inflammation.

"Much remains unknown about how our diet influences inflammation and, in turn, our risk of disease," said Dr Bao. "But our study supports an overall healthful role for nuts in the diet and suggests reducing inflammation as a potential mechanism that may help explain the benefits of nuts on cardiometabolic diseases."

Peanuts, technically a legume, and tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, macadamia, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts are naturally loaded with magnesium, fibre, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids, researchers said.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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