Nuts and Berries for Heart Health
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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.
KeywordsTree nuts Peanuts Berries Fatty acids Phytochemicals Antioxidants Flavonoids Healthy diets Epidemiologic studies Clinical trials Coronary heart disease Stroke Obesity Metabolic syndrome Visceral adiposity Type 2 diabetes Weight gain Hypertension Blood cholesterol Triglycerides Glycemic control Insulin Oxidation Inflammation Flow-mediated dilatation
Work supported in part by grants from the Spanish Health Ministry (FIS Thematic Research Networks C03/01 and G03/140) and the California Walnut Commission, Sacramento, CA. CIBERobn is an initiative of ISCIII, Spain.
The authors have received research funding from the California Walnut Commission, Sacramento, CA and are non-paid members of its Scientific Advisory Committee.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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