A new study shows that snacking on mixed tree nuts may influence cardiovascular disease risk factors and increase serotonin.

New findings from UCLA published in Nutrients In partnership with the International Nutrition Research Council and the Education Foundation

Davis, California.And January 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In paper1 Published online this week in the journal, NutrientsResearchers have found that eating mixed nuts (almonds, Brazil Nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) had a positive effect on the metabolism of the essential amino acid, tryptophan, in overweight and obese subjects. Specifically, there was an increase in both the cardioprotective metabolite tryptophan and in the neurotransmitter, serotonin.

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in a previous study2and researchers in University of California Showed that eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (Versus a pretzel) during 24 weeks of weight loss and weight maintenance resulted in weight loss, increased satiety, lower diastolic blood pressure, and lower heart rate. Tryptophan (found in tree nuts) has been indicated as an important factor in cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is metabolized in the intestine, producing several bioactive metabolites that are important in regulating immunity affecting chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The current study looked at whether nut snacks, as part of a low-fat diet, could modify the gut microbiome, resulting in increased levels of the heart-protective microbial tryptophan metabolites.

Plasma and stool samples were collected from 95 overweight or obese participants and assessed in the current study for tryptophan metabolites and gut microbiota. The lead researcher stated, “We have long known that walnuts can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk, and these findings offer some potential explanations,” stated the lead researcher. Chaoping LeeMD, PhD, professor of medicine and chair of the clinical nutrition department at the University of California. “We discovered some new associations between tryptophan metabolites, blood pressure, heart rate, and satiety in overweight/obese subjects, suggesting a broader effect of tryptophan metabolism in overall health, including cardiovascular health.”

Another interesting finding was the significant increase in blood serotonin levels (60.9% and 82.2% increase from baseline at week 12 and 24, respectively) in both the weight loss and weight maintenance phases, in those who ate mixed nuts. “This is the first time we’ve seen mixed nut consumption be associated with increased levels of serotonin in the body,” explained Dr. Lee. “While more research is needed, this is exciting because serotonin can have an important effect on mood and mental health in general.”

Research has shown that people get about 25% of their calories each day from snacks and a large percentage comes from desserts, sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets and salty snacks.3 “Replacing just one of those snacks with 1.5 ounces of nuts may help improve overall health and reduce the risk of various chronic diseases,” he stated. Maureen TernusMS, RDN, executive director of the International Nutrition Research Foundation and the International Tree Nut Council.

The International Nutrition Research Foundation and the International Tree Nut Council (INC NREF) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting nutrition research and education for consumers and health professionals around the world. Members include those associations and organizations that represent the nine tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts). For more information, please visit our website at www.nuthealth.org.

1 Yang, J., R. Lee, Z. Schulze, A. Hsu, J.Pai, S. Young, SM. Henning, J. Huang, J.B. Jacobs, D. Heber, Z. Lee, 2023. Mixed nuts as healthy snacks: Effect on tryptophan metabolism and cardiovascular risk factors. Nutrients. 15, 569; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15030569

2 Wang, J., S. Wang, SM, Henning, T. Qin, Y. Pan, J. Yang, J. Huang, C.-H. Tseng, D. Heber, Z. Li, 2021 Mixed tree snacks compared to refined carbohydrate snacks resulted in weight loss and increased satiety during both weight loss and weight maintenance: A 24-week randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 13(5), 1512; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13051512

3 Dunford, EK, Popkin BM, 2017. Variations in snacking trends in US adults over a 35-year period from 1977 to 2012. Nutrients. 9(8), 809; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080809.

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SOURCE International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation

A new study shows that snacking on mixed tree nuts may influence cardiovascular disease risk factors and increase serotonin.

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