A team of researchers at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center seems to think so. A recent study* whose results were published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, reports a beneficial effect for tree nuts on reducing a group of risk factors collectively known as “metabolic syndrome”, which is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease
Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, RD and her colleagues evaluated data from 13,292 men and women aged 19 and older upon enrollment in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Twenty-four hour recall data was analyzed for the intake of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
“Nut consumers” were defined as those who consumed at least ¼ ounce of these tree nuts per day. The “nut consumers” had a decreased prevalence of metabolic syndrome risk factors that included abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL-the “bad cholesterol) when compared with those who did not consume nuts. The nut consumers also had a 5 percent lower overall incidence of metabolic syndrome, defined as having three or more risk factors. Additionally, nut consumers had a lower level of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation, compared to non-consumers.
The nut consumers also had lower body weights and lower BMI (body mass index). The average weight of nut consumers was 4.19 lbs lower than in non-consumers
Dr O'Neil and her team believe that tree nuts are an integral part of a healthy diet and that their consumption should be encouraged by health professionals—especially registered dietitians.