Researchers believe that a diet that includes nuts can improve the antioxidant status in patients with metabolic syndrome. A metabolic syndrome is diagnosed when a combination of various risk factors is present, such as overweight, hypertension and / or elevated blood sugar and lipid values. If patients exhibit all risk factors, the danger of suffering a heart attack or stroke or developing diabetes mellitus is significantly higher than in cases in which only one or two risk factors are exhibited. In a study from 2007, South African researchers studied whether a diet rich in cashew nuts can improve the antioxidant status in patients with metabolic syndrome and thus decrease the risk of disease. 64 subjects, 29 male, 35 female, aged between 35 and 55, all with metabolic syndrome, were given the same food for three weeks. They were then divided into three groups. One group continued to receive the same food for eight weeks (control group). The second group was given food rich in walnuts and the third was given food rich in cashew nuts. The share of nuts in groups two and three each provided 20 percent of nutritional energy per day. At the beginning and at the end of the eight week group phase, blood was taken from the subjects and examined for antioxidant markers. The antioxidant capacity of both the walnut and cashew nut food was significantly higher compared to the control group. This was measured using the ORAC value. ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity” and describes the capacity to absorb oxygen radicals. However, despite high ORAC values, consuming both types of nut diet was not sufficient to significantly change the antioxidant status in the blood serum of patients with metabolic syndrome.
Davis L et al.: The effects of high walnut and cashew nut diets on the antioxidant status of subjects with metabolic syndrome. Eur J Nutr. 2007 Apr;46(3):155-64.