Assorted Roasted Nuts in Small Bowl

BWH researchers discovered that greater intake of nuts is associated with lower levels of inflammation.

Contributors: Dr. Ying Bao is an epidemiologist in Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Dr. Paul Ridker is Director for the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH.

In a study of more than 5,000 people, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found that greater intake of nuts was associated with lower levels of biomarkers of inflammation, a finding that may help explain the health benefits of nuts. The results of the study appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“Previous studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases,” said corresponding author Dr. Ying Bao, an epidemiologist in BWH’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation.”

Previously, Dr. Bao and her colleagues observed an association between increased nut consumption and reduced risk of major chronic diseases and even death, but few studies had examined the link between nut intake and inflammation. In the current study, the research team performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes more than 120,000 female registered nurses, and from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which includes more than 50,000 male health professionals. The research team assessed diet using questionnaires and looked at the levels of certain telltale proteins known as biomarkers in blood samples collected from the study participants. They measured three well-established biomarkers of inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL6) and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2).

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