A number of recent studies have indicated that nuts and berries provide great advantages in averting metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms linked to heightened risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Preliminary results from a Spanish study involving 9,000 people suggest that a Mediterranean diet leads to improved levels of cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, all linked to metabolic syndrome. In particular, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of hazelnuts and 7.5 grams of almonds per day appeared to provide a long-term 50 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, more than the Mediterranean diet high in olive oil or the low fat diet. The research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
In another study, researchers found that people who supplemented their everyday diet with 2-3 ounces of pistachios per day for four weeks showed significantly improved cholesterol ratios, perhaps due to their increased intake of fiber and lower intake of saturated fat. This study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
"This research challenges the previously held belief that a low-fat diet is best for heart health. Studies now show that a diet with a moderate amount of healthful monounsaturated fat, like the kind found in pistachios, is a more effective way to prevent heart disease than reducing overall fat intake," said lead researcher James Cooper.
In a long-term study of 34,000 post-menopausal women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods such as berries was correlated with lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease over the course of 16 years.
An estimated 50 million people suffer from metabolic syndrome in the United States, placing them at a doubled risk of cardiovascular disease and five times the risk of diabetes compared with those who do not have the syndrome.