University Park, Pa. --- In the most comprehensive review yet of the available epidemiological and clinical evidence, Penn State researchers have concluded that eating tree nuts or peanuts can have a strong protective effect against coronary heart disease. Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition and lead author of the review, says, "To date, five large epidemiologic studies and 11 clinical studies have demonstrated that frequent consumption of nuts decreases the risk of coronary heart disease."
The most improvement comes with adding very small amounts of nuts an ounce, or about three to four tablespoons, five or more times a week.
"However, you can't simply add nuts, nut butters or nut oils to your usual diet without making some adjustments," Kris-Etherton says. "You have to replace some of the calories you usually consume with nuts and substitute the unsaturated fat in nuts for some of the saturated fat in your diet."
The study was published today (May 8) in the current issue of the journal, Nutrition Reviews. Kris-Etherton's co-authors are Guixiang Zhao, a doctoral candidate and a Kligman Scholar in Nutrition; Amy E. Binkoski, doctoral candidate in Penn State's Life Sciences Consortium; Stacie M. Coval, master's degree candidate; and Dr. Terry Etherton, distinguished professor and head of the dairy and animal sciences department.
The researcher's review of the existing published epidemiologic studies shows that consuming 1 ounce of nuts more than 5 times/week can result in a 25 to 39 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk among people whose characteristics match those of the general adult U.S. population.
Among the nuts consumed by the people who took part in the epidemiologic studies were almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macademia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts, as well as peanuts. However, the effects of specific nuts on coronary heart disease risk were not evaluated in these studies
Contact: Barbara Hale