Including nuts in a traditionally Mediterranean diet helps to maintain a healthy heart, by managing the metabolic syndrome.
What is the metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health problems such as obesity, a high cholesterol level, a high blood pressure and a high glucose level. These problems together increase the risk of developing heart and blood vessel diseases (cardiovascular diseases) and diabetes (type 2). More and more people around the world are developing metabolic syndrome. One in five people are already affected by it.
The recent study by Salas-Salvado et al. showed that a diet high in good (unsaturated) fats could decrease the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. 1,224 older people (55-80 years old) who were at risk of developing heart disease participated in this study. They were asked to follow either a Mediterranean diet with lots of virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet that includes 30 grams of mixed nuts per day or a low fat diet for a year. The participants also received nutritional advice about their diets.
The traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with nuts was the winner in reducing the risk of the development of metabolic syndrome. The occurrence of metabolic syndrome was reduced by 13.7 per cent when the diet was enriched with nuts, by 6.7 per cent when enriched with olive oil, and by only 2 per cent in the low fat diet group.
1) Salas-Salvado J, Fernandez-Ballart J, Ros E, Martínez-González M-A, et al. Effect of a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented With Nuts on Metabolic Syndrome Status. Archive of Internal Medicine 2008; 22:2449-2458.