More on nuts here…A study recently assessed the effects of three diets on people with metabolic syndrome (that is, high cardiovascular and diabetes risk): a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil (1 litre a week) and a Mediterranean diet including 30 g of mixed nuts each day. The nut mix was 50% walnuts, 25% hazlenuts and 25% almonds, all unsalted, unroasted and fresh, of course. The study lasted for a year.
At the end of the year, the researchers discovered that 2 per cent of individuals eating the low-fat diet had reversed their metabolic syndrome to the extent that they no long appeared to it. However, those eating the Mediterranean-based diets fared significantly better: rates of metabolic syndrome fell by about 7 and 14 per cent in the olive oil and nut supplemented groups respectively. Compared to eating the low fat diet, eating the Mediterranean diet enhanced the chances of reversal of metabolic syndrome by 70 per cent. In short, in this trial of treatments for metabolic syndrome, the Mediterranean diet plus nuts was the winner, and the low-fat diet the loser.
Why should nuts be seemingly so beneficial for individuals with metabolic syndrome? Well, for a start nuts are generally very undisruptive regarding blood sugar levels. But then again, so is olive oil, and the diet enriched with this did not perform as well as the one enriched with nuts. Looking more deeply into nuts we know that they are rich in certain nutrients that olive oil may not offer. The stand-out nutrient that is likely to have relevance is magnesium. This nutrient plays a part in blood sugar balance and insulin function in the body, amongst many other things.
(John Briffa Dec 08)