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International Tree Nut Council study finds link between nut intake and inflammatory biomarkers

July 27, 2016

In a cross-sectional analysis published online today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition*, researchers looked at the association between habitual nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers among 5,013 men and women participating in two ongoing prospective cohort studies: the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Higher nut intake (5 or more times per week) was associated with lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and Interleukin 6 (IL6). Both of these compounds increase in the body when there is inflammation, which can lead to chronic disease.

According to Ying Bao, MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, and the senior author of the paper, "Substituting three servings per week of tree nuts for three servings per week of red meat, processed meat, or eggs was associated with significantly lower CRP (all P<0.0001) and IL6 (P ranges from 0.01 to 0.04); lower CRP concentrations were also observed when substituting three servings per week of tree nuts for refined grains (P=0.0008)." Elevated CRP levels have been shown to predict the development of both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and IL6 has been associated with cardio-metabolic risk.

Previous research has shown that consuming tree nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Nuts contain a number of important components such as magnesium, fiber, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids--all of which may aid in protecting against inflammation.

Interestingly, research has also shown that nut consumption may be inversely related to body mass index (BMI), which is a strong determinant of inflammatory biomarkers. In fact, weight loss has been repeatedly shown to be associated with a decrease in levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Therefore, the researchers suggest, the associations between nut intake and inflammatory markers may be mediated in part through BMI.

"This is yet another piece of evidence showing that people should include more nuts in their diet," states Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF). "Just a handful of tree nuts (1.5 ounces or 1/3 cup) every day can result in numerous health benefits."
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The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF) represents the research and education arm of the International Tree Nut Council (INC). INC is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to supporting nutrition research and education for consumers and health professionals throughout the world and promoting new product development for tree nut products. Members include those associations and organizations that represent the nine tree nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) in more than 40 producing countries. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.nuthealth.org. You can also find us on social media at https://www.facebook.com/NutHealthOrg and https://twitter.com/NutHealthOrg.

*Yu, Z., V.S. Malik, N. Keum, F.B. Hu, E.L. Giovannucci, M.J. Stampfer, W.C. Willett, C.S. Fuchs, Y. Bao, 2016. Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory Biomarkers. AJCN. First published ahead of print July 27, 2016 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.134205.

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