, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 397-406
Date: 07 Sep 2010

Nuts and Berries for Heart Health

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Abstract

Nuts are nutrient-dense foods with complex matrices rich in unsaturated fatty acids and other bioactive compounds, such as L-arginine, fiber, minerals, tocopherols, phytosterols, and polyphenols. By virtue of their unique composition, nuts are likely to beneficially impact heart health. Epidemiologic studies have associated nut consumption with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease in both genders and diabetes in women. Limited evidence also suggests beneficial effects on hypertension and inflammation. Interventional studies consistently show that nut intake has a cholesterol-lowering effect and there is emerging evidence of beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular reactivity. Blood pressure, visceral adiposity, and glycemic control also appear to be positively influenced by frequent nut consumption without evidence of undue weight gain. Berries are another plant food rich in bioactive phytochemicals, particularly flavonoids, for which there is increasing evidence of benefits on cardiometabolic risk that are linked to their potent antioxidant power.