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Are fatty nuts a weighty concern? A systematic review and meta-analysis and dose–response meta-regression of prospective cohorts and randomized controlled trials.

Nishi, S.K., E. Viguiliouk, S. Blanco Mejia, C.W.C. Kendall, R.P. Bazinet,  A.J. Hanley, E.M. Comelli, J. Salas Salvado, D.J.A. Jenkins, J.L. Sievenpiper, 2021. Are fatty nuts a weighty concern? A systematic review and meta-analysis and dose–response meta-regression of prospective cohorts and randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. doi: 10.1111/obr.13330.

Nuts are recommended for cardiovascular health, yet concerns remain that nuts may contribute to weight gain due to their high energy density. A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohorts and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was conducted to update the evidence, provide a dose-response analysis, and assess differences in nut type, comparator and more in subgroup analyses. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane were searched, along with manual searches. Data from eligible studies were pooled using meta-analysis methods. Interstudy heterogeneity was assessed (Cochran Q statistic) and quantified (I2 statistic). Certainty of the evidence was assessed by Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE). Six prospective cohort studies (7 unique cohorts, n = 569,910) and 86 RCTs (114 comparisons, n = 5873) met eligibility criteria. Nuts were associated with lower incidence of overweight/obesity (RR 0.93 [95% CI 0.88 to 0.98] P < 0.001, “moderate” certainty of evidence) in prospective cohorts. RCTs presented no adverse effect of nuts on body weight (MD 0.09 kg, [95% CI -0.09 to 0.27 kg] P < 0.001, “high” certainty of evidence). Meta-regression showed that higher nut intake was associated with reductions in body weight and body fat. Current evidence demonstrates the concern that nut consumption contributes to increased adiposity appears unwarranted.

Mixed tree nut snacks compared to refined carbohydrate snacks resulted in weight loss and increased satiety during both weight loss and weight maintenance: A 24-week randomized controlled trial.

Wang, J., S. Wang, S.M. Henning, T. Qin, Y. Pan, J. Yang, J. Huang, C.-H. Tseng, D. Heber,  Z. Li, 2021. Mixed tree nut snacks compared to refined carbohydrate snacks resulted in weight loss and increased satiety during both weight loss and weight maintenance: A 24-week randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 13(5), 1512; doi.org/10.3390/nu13051512

Mixed tree nuts (MTNs) are an excellent source of protein and healthy fat contributing to satiety. However, their relatively high caloric content might not be beneficial in a weight loss diet. The present study was designed to test whether including MTNs in a weight loss and maintenance program interferes with weight management compared to a refined carbohydrate pretzel snack (PS). We performed a randomized, controlled, two-arm study in 95 overweight individuals consuming 1.5 oz of MTNs or PS daily as part of a hypocaloric weight loss diet (−500 kcal) over 12 weeks followed by an isocaloric weight maintenance program for 12 weeks. Participants in both groups experienced significant weight loss (12 weeks: −1.6 and −1.9 and 24 weeks: −1.5 and −1.4 kg) compared to baseline in the MTN and PS groups, respectively. However, there was no difference in weight loss and other outcome parameters between the MTN and PS groups. The MTN group showed a significant increase in satiety at 24 weeks. Both groups had a decrease in diastolic blood pressure at 12 weeks. Participants in the MTN group showed significant decreases in heart rate at 4, 12, and 24 weeks. Plasma oleic acid was significantly increased at 12 and 24 weeks in the MTN group but only at 12 weeks in the PS group. Plasma MCP-1 was decreased significantly in the MTN group at 4 weeks. In summary, participants in both groups lost weight, but only the MTN intervention increased satiety at 24 weeks, enhanced retention, decreased heart rate, and increased serum oleic acid at 24 weeks.

The association between left ventricular hypertrophy and consumption of nuts, including peanuts, pine nuts, and almonds.

Park, S.K., C.-M. Oh, J.G. Kang, H.S. Seok, J.Y. Jung, 2021. The association between left ventricular hypertrophy and consumption of nuts, including peanuts, pine nuts, and almonds. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 31(1):76-84.

Background and aims: Studies have reported that nut consumption is potentially beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease. However, data are insufficient regarding the association between nut consumption and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Methods and results: In the Kangbuk Samsung Health Study, the participants were 34,617 men and 12,257 women who completed a food-frequency questionnaire for nut consumption and received echocardiography. Nut consumption was evaluated only for peanuts, pine nuts, and almonds defining 15g as one serving/servings dose. Multivariable adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for LVH were evaluated according to the consumption frequency of one serving dose of nut. The frequency of nut consumption was categorized into five groups (<1/month, 1/month-1/week, 1-2/week, 2-4/week, and ≥4/week). The subgroup analysis was conducted by dividing the participants into the following two groups: the nonhypertensive/nondiabetic group and hypertensive or diabetic group. In women, nut consumption ≥2/week had the lower multivariable adjusted OR and 95% CI for LVH (2-4/week: 0.46 [0.26-0.81] and ≥4/week: 0.48 [0.25-0.92]) when compared with nut consumption <1/month. This association was identically observed in the subgroup analysis for women without hypertension and diabetes mellitus (DM) and women with hypertension or DM. However, men did not show the significant association. Conclusion: In women, nut consumption ≥2/week was associated with the decreased probability of LVH. Further research studies should investigate whether the beneficial effect of nut consumption on LV structure results in better cardiovascular prognosis.

Prospective randomized controlled trial on the effects of almonds on facial wrinkles and pigmentation.

Rybak, I., A.E. Carrington, S. Dhaliwal, A. Hasan, H. Wu, W. Burney, J. Maloh, R.K. Sivamani, 2021.  Prospective randomized controlled trial on the effects of almonds on facial wrinkles and pigmentation. Nutrients. 13,785. doi.org/10.3390/nu13030785

Background: Almonds have long been studied as a rich source of fatty acids, phytochemical polyphenols and antioxidants such as vitamin E. A recent study compared almond supplementations to a calorie-matched intervention for 16 weeks, yielding statistically significant improvement in wrinkle severity in postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I and II that received almonds. This study furthers that assessment with a larger population and duration of 24 weeks to assess the influence of almond consumption on wrinkle severity, skin pigmentation and other skin biophysical profiles. Objective: To investigate the effects of almond consumption on photoaging such as wrinkles and pigment intensity as well as facial biophysical parameters such as sebum production, skin hydration and water loss. Design and interventions: A prospective, randomized controlled study assessed postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I or II who consumed 20% of their daily energy consumption in either almonds or a calorie-matched snack for 24 weeks. A facial photograph and image analysis system was used to obtain standardized high-resolution photographs and information on wrinkle width and severity at 0, 8, 16 and 24 weeks. Measurements of transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin pigmentation, skin hydration and sebum production were also completed at each visit. Results: The average wrinkle severity was significantly decreased in the almond intervention group at week 16 and week 24 compared to baseline by 15% and 16%, respectively. Facial pigment intensity was decreased 20% in the almond group at week 16 and this was maintained by week 24. There were no significant differences in skin hydration or TEWL in the almond group compared to the control, although sebum excretion was increased in the control group. Conclusion: The daily consumption of almonds may improve several aspects of photoaging such as facial wrinkles and pigment intensity in postmenopausal women. In conclusion, the daily consumption of almonds may contribute to the improvement of facial wrinkles and reduction of skin pigmentation among postmenopausal women with Fitzpatrick skin types I and II.

Almond consumption increased UVB resistance in healthy Asian women.

Li, J.N., S.M. Henning, G. Thames, O. Bari, P.T. Tran, C.-H. Tseng, D. Heber, J. Kim, Z. Li, 2021. Almond consumption increased UVB resistance in healthy Asian women. J Cosmet Dermatol. 00:1–6.

Background: Almonds are a rich source of phenolic and polyphenolic compounds, which have antioxidant activity. In vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that topical application of almond oil and almond skin extract reduces UVB-induced photoaging. Ultraviolet-B (UVB) protection by oral almond consumption has not been previously studied in humans. Objectives: To investigate whether oral almond consumption can increase resistance to UVB radiation and reduce skin aging in healthy Asian women. Methods: Thirty-nine female participants (18-45 years) with Fitzpatrick skin type II-IV were randomly assigned to consume either 1.5 oz of almonds or 1.8 oz of pretzels daily for 12 weeks. Minimal erythema dose (MED) was determined using a standardized protocol, which determined the minimal radiation needed to induce erythema on the inner arm following UVB exposure. Facial skin texture was evaluated by two dermatologists using the Clinician’s Erythema Assessment scale and Allergan Roughness scale. Facial melanin index, hydration, sebum, and erythema were determined using a cutometer. Results: The MED was increased in the subjects consuming almonds compared to the control group consuming pretzels. There were no differences noted between the groups consuming almonds versus pretzels in Allergan roughness, melanin, hydration, or sebum on facial skin. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that daily oral almond consumption may lead to enhanced protection from UV photodamage by increasing the MED.

Effects of daily almond consumption for six months on cognitive measures in healthy middle-aged to older adults: a randomized control trial.

Rakic, J.M., J. Tanprasertsuk, T.M. Scott, H.M. Rasmussen, E.S. Mohn, C.-Y.O. Chen, E.J. Johnson, 2021. Effects of daily almond consumption for six months on cognitive measures in healthy middle-aged to older adults: a randomized control trial. Nutr Neurosci. 1-11.  doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2020.1868805.

Background: Age-related cognitive decline is a major public health issue. Almonds are rich in nutrients that benefit cognitive function. Objective: To investigate the impact of almonds on cognition in elderly adults. Design: In a six-month, single-blinded, randomized-controlled trial, the effects of an almond intervention on cognition in healthy, middle-aged/older adults (50-75 years) was tested. Subjects were assigned to one of three groups: 1.5 oz/d almond (n = 19), 3 oz/d almond (n = 24), or 3.5 oz/d snack (control, matched for macronutrients in 3.0 oz almonds, (n = 17). Serum analyses for tocopherols, oxidative status and inflammation, and cognition were assessed at baseline (M0), three (M3), and six (M6) months. Results: At M6, serum alpha-tocopherol concentrations increased by 8% from M0 (p < 0.05) in the 3 oz almond group but did not increase in the other groups. Serum markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were not significantly different throughout the study among the groups. There was no difference in change over time in cognitive tests among the groups. However, there was a significant improvement in visuospatial working memory (p = 0.023), visual memory and learning (p = 0.017), and spatial planning and working memory (p < 0.001) in subjects receiving 3 oz/d almonds at M6, while the snack group showed no improvement. Conclusions: Almonds did not significantly improve cognitive function in cognitively intact middle-aged/older adults over six months. However, a significant improvement at M6 in cognitive measures was observed with 3 oz/d almonds. While these results are encouraging, a study of longer duration in subjects at risk for age-related cognitive decline is warranted. 

Almond consumption affects fecal microbiota composition, stool pH, and stool moisture in overweight and obese adults with elevated fasting blood glucose: A randomized controlled trial.

Choo, J.M., C.D. Tran, N.D. Luscombe-Marsh, W. Stonehouse, J. Bowen, N. Johnson, C.H. Thompson, E.-J. Watson, G.D. Brinkworth, G.B. Rogers, 2021. Almond consumption affects fecal microbiota composition, stool pH, and stool moisture in overweight and obese adults with elevated fasting blood glucose: A randomized controlled trial. Nutr Res. 85:47-59.

Regular almond consumption has been shown to improve body weight management, lipid profile and blood glucose control. We hypothesized that almond consumption would alter fecal microbiota composition, including increased abundance and activity of potentially beneficial bacterial taxa in adults who are overweight and obese with elevated fasting blood glucose. A total of 69 adults who were overweight or obese with an elevated plasma glucose (age: 60.8 ± 7.4, BMI ≥27 kg/m2, fasting plasma glucose ≥5.6 to <7.0 mmol/L) were randomized to daily consumption of either 2 servings of almonds (AS:56 g/day) or an isocaloric, high carbohydrate biscuit snack for 8 weeks. AS but not biscuit snack experienced significant changes in microbiota composition (P= .011) and increases in bacterial richness, evenness, and diversity (P< .01). Increases in both the relative and absolute abundance of operational taxonomic units in the Ruminococcaceae family, including Ruminiclostridium (false discovery rate P = .002), Ruminococcaceae NK4A214 (P = .002) and Ruminococcaceae UCG-003 (P = .002) were the principal drivers of microbiota-level changes. No changes in fecal short chain fatty acid levels, or in the carriage of the gene encoding butyryl-CoA:acetate CoA-transferase (an enzyme involved in butyrate synthesis) occurred. Almond consumption was not associated with reduced gut permeability, but fecal pH (P= .0006) and moisture content (P = .027) decreased significantly in AS when compared to BS. Regular almond consumption increased the abundance of potentially beneficial ruminococci in the fecal microbiota in individuals with elevated blood glucose. However, fecal short-chain fatty acid levels remained unaltered and the capacity for such microbiological effects to precipitate host benefit is not known.

Nut consumption and type 2 diabetes risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.

Becerra-Tomás, N., I. Paz-Graniel, P. Hernández-Alonso, D.J.A. Jenkins, C.W.C. Kendall, J.L. Sievenpiper, J. Salas-Salvadó, 2021. Nut consumption and type 2 diabetes risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr 00:1–12.

Background: Previous meta-analyses, with some methodological controversies, have assessed the relation between nut consumption and type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk and pointed to contradictory results, making desirable the performance of an updated meta-analysis. Objectives: We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze all the published studies investigating the relations of total nuts and different types of nuts—i.e., walnuts, peanuts, peanut butter, and total tree nuts—with the prevalence and incidence of T2D. Methods: A systematic search was conducted in the PubMed and Cochrane databases through 12 August, 2020. The inverse variance method with fixed-effect models was used to pool data across studies, expressed as risk ratios (RRs) or ORs and 95% CIs for prospective cohort and cross-sectional studies, respectively. The Cochran Q test and I 2 statistics were used to test and quantify heterogeneity, respectively. Dose-response meta-analysis was also conducted. Results: Eight studies (5 prospective and 3 cross-sectional) were included in the quantitative synthesis. Meta-analyses of crosssectional studies and prospective cohort studies, comparing the highest with the lowest categories, revealed a nonsignificant association between total nut consumption and T2D. Meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies showed an inverse association between peanut butter consumption and T2D incidence (RR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.98; I 2 = 50.6%; Pheterogeneity = 0.16), whereas no association was observed between peanuts or tree nuts and T2D. There was no evidence of a linear dose-response or nonlinear dose-response gradient for total nut and peanut consumption in prospective cohort studies. The certainty of the evidence using NutriGrade was very low for all the exposures. Conclusions: Current results do not demonstrate an association of total nut, peanut, or tree nut consumption with T2D. Peanut butter consumption may be inversely associated with this disease. This review protocol was registered at www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/ as CRD42020149756.

Nut consumption for cognitive performance: A systematic review.

Theodore, L.E., N.J. Kellow, E.A. McNeil, E.O. Close, E.G. Coad, B.R. Cardoso, 2020. Nut consumption for cognitive performance: A systematic review. Adv Nutr. 00:1–16.

Diet is considered an important modifiable lifestyle factor capable of attenuating early cognitive changes in healthy older people. The inclusion of nuts in the diet has been investigated as a dietary strategy for maintenance of brain health across the lifespan. This review aimed to present up-to-date evidence regarding the association between nut intake and cognitive performance. Four databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Scopus, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Plus, and Embase) were systematically searched from inception to April 2020. Eligible articles were interventional or observational studies in humans aged ≥18 y that measured the effects (or association) of nuts (almond, hazelnut, macadamia, pistachio, walnut, pecan, pine nut, Brazil nut, cashew, peanut) on cognitive outcomes. Out of the 2374 articles identified in the searches, 22 involving 43,793 participants met the criteria and were ultimately included in this review. Memory (immediate and delayed), attention, processing speed, executive function, and visual-spatial ability, as well as risk of mild cognitive impairment, were the outcomes investigated. Lack of consistency across the studies regarding study design, types of nut used, and cognitive outcomes measured resulted in inconsistent evidence that the regular consumption of mixed nuts has a protective effect on cognition in adults of different ages. Nonetheless, we observed that studies targeting populations with a higher risk of cognitive decline tended to find a more favorable outcome. Furthermore, homogeneous findings were observed in the studies that specifically addressed the association between walnut consumption and cognitive performance: out of the 6 studies, including 2 randomized controlled trials, only 1 did not find a positive association.

Energy extraction from nuts: walnuts, almonds, pistachios.

McArthur, B., R. Mattes, 2020. Energy extraction from nuts: walnuts, almonds, pistachios. Br J Nutr. 123(4):361-371.

The bioaccessibility of fat has implications for satiety and postprandial lipidemia. The prevailing view holds that the integrity of plant cell wall structure is the primary determinant of energy and nutrient extraction from plant cells as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract. However, comparisons across nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios) with varying physical properties do not support this view. In this study, masticated samples of three nuts from healthy adults were exposed to a static model of gastric digestion followed by simulated intestinal digestion. Primary outcomes were particle size and lipid release at each phase of digestion. Walnuts produced a significantly larger particle size post-mastication compared to almonds. Under gastric and intestinal conditions, the particle size was larger for walnuts compared to pistachios and almonds (P<0.05). However, the masticated and digesta particle sizes were not related to the integrity of cell walls nor lipid release. The total lipid release was comparable between nuts after the in vitro intestinal phase (P>0.05). Microstructural examination showed ruptured and fissured cell walls that would allow digestion of cellular contents and this may be governed by internal cellular properties such as oil body state. Furthermore, the cell walls of walnuts tend to rupture rather than separate and as walnut tissue passes through the gastrointestinal track, lipids tend to coalesce reducing digestion efficiency.