Habitual nut consumption was associated with a healthy profile of inflammatory biomarkers, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School reported. Findings from their analysis are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous studies have established the association between increased nut consumption and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers, however, are less clear. Researchers analyzed cross-sectional data from 5,103 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) who did not have diabetes. 

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Nut intake — defined as intake of peanuts and other nuts — was estimated from food-frequency questionnaires and cumulative averages from 1986 and 1990 in the NHS and from 1990 and 1994 in the HPFS were used; plasma biomarkers were collected in 1989-1990 in the NHS and 1993-1995 in the HPFS. Nut consumption and levels of fasting plasma C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR 2) were assessed through multivariate linear regression models. 

They found that higher nut consumption was associated with lower levels of a subset of inflammatory biomarkers after adjusting for demographic, medical, dietary, and lifestyle variables. When compared to participants with “never” or “almost never” nut intake, the relative concentrations of those with nut intake of ≥5 times/week were: CRP 0.80 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.90; P=0.0003); IL-6 0.86 (95% CI: 0.77, 0.97; p=0.0006).  These associations were still significant after adjusting for body mass index.

Significantly lower CRP and IL-6 levels were seen with substituting 3 servings of nuts per week for 3 servings of red meat, processed meat, eggs, or refined grains per week. No significant association was seen with TNFR 2 levels, the authors noted. 

For more information visit ajcn.nutrition.org.