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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY Finds No Cardiovascular Benefit to Eating Nuts among People of Southern China

Dr. C. Mary Schooling, professor at the City University of New York School of Public Health and colleagues published their findings in PLOS ONE. While in the West, nut consumption is associated with better health, this study in Guangzhou found no similar associations.

Schooling Mary
[Photo: Dr. C. Mary Schooling]

Data were from the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study and included more than 11,700 participants. Nut consumption was not associated with Framingham score, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, or fasting glucose, adjusted for baseline values, energy intake, age, sex, phase of recruitment, socio-economic position, lifestyle and baseline health status.

The authors expound on possible explanations for their findings, especially because their findings were inconsistent with six recent meta-analyses of observational studies from Western countries including prospective studies where nut consumption was found to be associated with lower cardiovascular risk including fewer cardiovascular disease events and deaths, and two recent meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials where nut consumption reduced LDL-cholesterol and glucose. However, this study is consistent with the same meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials where nut consumption had no effect on HDL-cholesterol, and a randomized controlled trial where nut consumption was not associated with the risk of myocardial infarction

Peanuts were the type of nuts most commonly consumed, and peanuts are members of the legume family as distinct from tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts. Both legumes and tree nuts are part of a healthy diet, although the evidence from randomized controlled trials for tree nuts and peanuts is limited and somewhat inconsistent.  The researchers could not rule out the possibility that the study population was eating the wrong sort of nuts. Nevertheless, the benefits of nuts could be restricted to tree nuts.