People who regularly consume nuts, like pistachios, may have lower body weight and reduced risk factors for certain chronic diseases, say researchers.
A study, supported by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, suggests that tree nut consumers are less likely to have certain risk factors associated with heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
The researchers examined the diets of more than 13,000 adults participating in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found that tree nut consumption was associated with a lower prevalence rate of four risk factors for metabolic syndrome-abdominal obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), low HDL-C (good cholesterol) and elevated fasting glucose-as well as a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome in general, as compared to non-nut consumers.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when you have a cluster of conditions that together increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
In addition, tree nut consumers had higher levels of HDL-C and folate and lower levels of C-reactive protein and homocysteine, all of which are important indicators of heart health.
The researchers also discovered that, on average, tree nut consumers had significantly lower weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) compared to non-tree nut consumers.
The average weight, BMI and waist circumference of tree-nut consumers were about 4 pounds, 1 kg/m2, and an inch lower, respectively, than non-consumers.
`We found that in addition to lower body weight, tree nut consumers also had a 22 percent lower risk of becoming overweight or obese and 17 percent lower risk of developing abdominal obesity than non-tree nut consumers,` stated Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, RD, lead author of the study and Professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center.
This data confirms similar results found by researchers at Harvard University in 2011, which found that consumption of nuts was inversely associated with weight gain.
The finding has been recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.