Researchers conducted a large-scale study whose results show that nut consumption leaves a precise signature in the body in terms of metabolites, linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The, consumption, of, nuts, is, beneficial, for, diabetes, and, cardiovascular, disease

They are considered a real treasure for health: nuts have many benefits that make them a delicious healthy snack to enjoy every day. For example, they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, a family of fatty acids essential for the development and proper functioning of the body. Previous studies have shown a beneficial effect on the reduction of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But thanks to which components? This is the goal of the new research conducted by researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with researchers from the University Rovira i Virgili and the University of Navarra.

This study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, involved using artificial intelligence, a machine learning model, to identify 19 metabolites, when intestinal bacteria produce organic compounds that can have an impact on health, associated with the consumption of nuts. These can take the form of fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, peptides or vitamins. Researchers have focused on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease because they are the two leading causes of death worldwide: respectively the first and seventh leading cause of death according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

"Nuts are good for our health"

The researchers found that the nut's metabolite profile was associated with a 17% lower risk of type 2 diabetes and 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. This is an important finding as this is the first study to examine the association between metabolites made from nut consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. "We are able to improve our understanding of the relationship between diet and disease and to adopt a personalized approach that will lead to better prevention and management of various health problems," explains Dr. Marta Guasch-Ferré. 

 She adds, "In this study, we revealed the unique metabolomic signature of nuts, which brings us one step closer to understanding 'how' nuts are good for our health. These cutting-edge technologies are shaping the future of nutritional recommendations. "To reach this conclusion, the researchers examined data from 1833 participants in the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) study, a large-scale study in Spain that examined the effects of a Mediterranean diet on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in people considered at risk for heart disease.

A handful of nuts per day

The participants were aged 55-80 years and followed three different diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with a mixture of nuts (50% nuts, 25% almonds, 25% hazelnuts), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or a low-fat diet. Through blood analyses, the scientific team has sought associations between 385 known metabolites and nut consumption. A total of 19 metabolites were significantly associated, including lipids and amino acids. It is this overall "metabolite profile" that is believed to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

The researchers believe that these results therefore underline the link between nut consumption as part of a healthy diet and cardiometabolic health. However, more studies are needed on this topic with other types of populations since this study focused only on middle-aged to older adults. "In addition, since the field of metabolomics is rapidly evolving, future studies will be needed to identify additional biomarkers related to nut ingestion that have not been studied in this study, as well as to understand individual metabolic responses after nut consumption," the researchers conclude. 

It should be noted that according to the nutritional benchmarks of the PNNS or National Nutrition and Health Plan, it is recommended to consume a handful of unsalted nuts per day for non-allergic people (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios...) given their nutritional interest: they are rich in omega 3. This is one of the great novelties of the recommendations dating from 2019. In addition, for added fats, the program recommends giving preference to rapeseed, walnut and olive oil. But beware, this benchmark is in addition to the one concerning fruits and vegetables: eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day, whether fresh, frozen or canned and preferably organic.