The session brought together global expertise and insight on nuts in relation to cardiovascular health, body weight, chronic diseases and metabolic syndrome.
Chairing the session were Prof. Miguel A. Martínez-González, University of Navarra, Spain, and Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, University Hospital of Sant Joan, Pere Virgili Institute for Health Research, Rovira i Virgili University, Spain.
In opening the symposium, guest speaker Dr. Mònica Bulló from Rovira i Virgili University, Spain pointed out how nuts may exert a protective effect on insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Dr. Bulló reviewed large-prospective studies and clinical trials that have examined the association between nut consumption and the risk of T2DM.
Dr. Joan Sabaté, School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, listed published studies on nut intake and body weight. Currently, the available data do not indicate that free-living people on self-selected diets including the frequent consumption of nuts have a higher body mass index (BMI) or a tendency towards weight gain. Dr. Sabaté outlined that randomized trials are needed to evaluate the effects of nut consumption on energy balance and changes in BMI.
From Harvard’s School of Public Health, Prof. Frank Hu presented a review of epidemiologic studies on nuts and chronic diseases. Several prospective cohort studies have found an inverse association between nut consumption and risk coronary heart disease. In addition, higher nut consumption has been associated to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and lower weight gain. Recent analyses from large cohort studies have found that regular consumption of nuts including peanuts and tree nuts is associated with decreased total and cause-specific mortality.
Finally, Dr. Linda Tapsell from University of Wollongong, Australia, talked about the metabolic syndrome, a condition involving a cluster of risk factors associated with diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Consumption of tree nuts has not been associated with weight gain, but has been associated with improvements in blood lipids. Importantly, they have been shown to be an integral part of dietary patterns associated with a favorable impact on metabolic syndrome and the associated disease end points.
The event provided the opportunity to spread the benefits of nuts to the biggest group of nutrition professionals. Prof. Salas-Salvadó echoed the sentiment of participants by stating, “this meeting was an excellent forum for the exchange of scientific thought and opinion to broaden minds and ideas for future research in nuts”.
In addition, participants received one free unit of the Supplement “Health & Nuts” and had the opportunity to sample nuts and dried fruits at the after session cocktail.