Walnuts and peanuts, consumed naturally, regularly and in the right proportions, would help reduce the risk of mortality, also from cardiac causes. This is confirmed by an observational study of a large population of different ethnic backgrounds, conducted by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VICC), a US university in Tennessee, published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal.
A large study on two hundred thousand people of different ethnic backgrounds would demonstrate the effectiveness of dried fruit in reducing cardiovascular risks but for confirmation, we need a large clinical trial.
WALNUTS AND LONGEVITY
They would remove the risk of mortality for any cause in a percentage ranging between 17 and 21%, and especially for a cardiovascular event, such as stroke and heart attack, with a probability in this case even decreased by 23-38%.
These are the results that emerged from a large US study that assessed the relationship between consumption of these foods and survival in a group of over 200,000 people from various continents; in particular of 70 thousand Americans, with low economic income, descendants of Africans and Europeans, included in the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS) and more than 130 thousand Chinese who are part of two studies, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS) and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study (SMHS).
In all three groups, the reduction in mortality was evident in people more used to consuming nuts and peanuts than those who were thriftier in including these foods in their diet. “A trend – explains Hung Luu, first author of the study – observable in the different ethnic groups and not related to the metabolic state, smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index”.
In addition, the study also identified a positive relationship between peanut consumption and lower risk of diabetes mellitus or death by cancer.
HOW MANY NUTS TO CONSUME?
The benefits on longevity and on the heart would be attributable both to the properties of nuts and hazelnuts for nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fibers, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine and phytochemicals, and to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that would help also to preserve the heart muscle in a better state of well-being, and to maintain endothelial function for longer.
As in everything, however, there is the right means: because nuts and peanuts must not be consumed either in excess or in defect. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of walnuts per week, without salt and without oil, considering that one serving is equal to about 42.5 grams of whole walnuts.
However, it must be taken into account that dried fruit has a high caloric content and is not always suitable for a low-calorie diet and if you are overweight, and should be avoided if you have a predisposition to allergic reactions.
WE NEED NEW CONFIRMATIONS
The preliminary results of the study are encouraging, as they would seem to provide a low-cost preventive strategy against cardiovascular events: it would require the inclusion of dried fruit in the diet, therefore a ‘therapy’ accessible even for the poorest categories of patients. However, since we are dealing with observational epidemiological studies and not randomized clinical trials, we cannot yet draw firm conclusions: “It is not possible to say with certainty – concluded William Blot, Associate Director of Population-based Cancer Prevention and Control Research at VICC and co-author of the study – if peanuts alone are responsible for reducing observed mortality.” We will need further research to attest to its effectiveness, but the premises at the moment are hopeful.