Category Archives: Nuts

Eat Nuts to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Improve Type 2 Diabetic Blood Sugars

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts on the tree

Most of the diets I recommend to my patients include nuts because they’re so often linked to improved cardiovascular health in scientific studies. Walnuts are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in women, and established type 2 diabetics see improved blood sugar control and lower cholesterols when adding nuts to their diets.

paleobetic diet, diabetic diet, low-carb diet

Apples, pecans, and blueberries: So simple even a redneck can make it (I are a redneck)

Nut consumption lowers total and LDL cholesterol levels, and if triglycerides are elevated, nuts lower them, too. Those changes would tend to reduce heart disease.

Conner Middelmann-Whitney has a good nutty article at Psychology Today.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH; Keiji Oda, MA, MPH; Emilio Ros, MD, PhD. Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels: A Pooled Analysis of 25 Intervention Trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010, Vol. 170 No. 9, pp 821-827. Abstract:

Background  Epidemiological studies have consistently associated nut consumption with reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Subsequently, many dietary intervention trials investigated the effects of nut consumption on blood lipid levels. The objectives of this study were to estimate the effects of nut consumption on blood lipid levels and to examine whether different factors modify the effects.

Methods:  We pooled individual primary data from 25 nut consumption trials conducted in 7 countries among 583 men and women with normolipidemia and hypercholesterolemia who were not taking lipid-lowering medications. In a pooled analysis, we used mixed linear models to assess the effects of nut consumption and the potential interactions.

Results:  With a mean daily consumption of 67 g of nuts [about 2 ounces or 2 palms-ful], the following estimated mean reductions were achieved: total cholesterol concentration (10.9 mg/dL [5.1% change]), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (LDL-C) (10.2 mg/dL [7.4% change]), ratio of LDL-C to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (HDL-C) (0.22 [8.3% change]), and ratio of total cholesterol concentration to HDL-C (0.24 [5.6% change]) (P < .001 for all) (to convert all cholesterol concentrations to millimoles per liter, multiply by 0.0259). Triglyceride levels were reduced by 20.6 mg/dL (10.2%) in subjects with blood triglyceride levels of at least 150 mg/dL (P < .05) but not in those with lower levels (to convert triglyceride level to millimoles per liter, multiply by 0.0113). The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels. The effects of nut consumption were significantly modified by LDL-C, body mass index, and diet type: the lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL-C and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets.

Conclusion:  Nut consumption improves blood lipid levels in a dose-related manner, particularly among subjects with higher LDL-C or with lower BMI.

Why Everybody Should Eat Nuts

Nuts with more omega-3 fatty acids (compared to omega-6) may be the healthiest

Nuts with the lowest omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratios may be the healthiest. In other words, increase your omega-3s and decrease omega-6s.

Conner Middelmann-Whitney explains in her recent post at Psychology Today. In a nutshell, they are linked to longer life and better health. For example:

In the largest study of its kind, Harvard scientists found that people who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts. The study also found that regular nut-eaters were leaner than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should calm any fears that eating nuts will make you gain weight.

The report also looked at the protective effect on specific causes of death. “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America,” according to Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber, the senior author of the report and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But we also saw a significant reduction—11% —in the risk of dying from cancer,” added Fuchs.

Read the whole enchilada.

Nuts are integral to my Advanced Mediterranean Diet, Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, Paleobetic Diet, and Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet.

Walnuts seem to have the lowest omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio of all the common nuts. That may make them the healthiest nut. The jury is still out. Macadamia nuts have a good ratio, too. Paleo dieters focus on cutting out omega-6s and increasing omega-3s. Julianne Taylor has a great post on how to do that with a variety of foods, not just nuts.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Recipe: Waldorfian Salad

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet

One cup of Waldorfian salad. I doubled the cinnamon in this batch, so yours won’t look quite like this.

Today’s meal is inspired by the classic Waldorf salad, made famous by New York’s Waldorf Hotel over a century ago. The hotel today is called the Waldorf-Astoria.

The primary ingredients are apples, walnuts, and celery.

The original salad was made with mayonnaise, which I’m leaving out since I don’t yet have a paleo-compliant formula. They’re out there, however. Do you have a favorite?

paleobetic diet

Good source of omega-3 fatty acids

Instead of mayonnaise, we use a dressing—a vinaigrette—made with walnut oil. Walnut oil is attractive in part because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids: 1.77 grams per tbsp (15 ml). Compared with Paleolithic diets, modern Western diets are too low in omega-3s and too high in omega-6s. You can use your left-over walnut oil the way you’d use olive oil.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, ketogenic diet

I made my dressing in this BPA-laden plastic container

In composing the Paleobetic Diet, my biggest challenge is breakfast. I’m fine eating eggs almost daily, but that may not be your cup ‘o tea. Most of us in America are accustomed to grain-based options like cold cereal, porridge, bagels, donuts, pancakes, granola, and toast. Plus yogurt. Those aren’t paleo, and they have too many carbohydrates for many diabetics. I came up with Waldorfian salad as a low-carb paleo-style breakfast, reminiscent of Brian’s Berry Breakfast.

This recipe makes two large servings of 2 cups (480 ml) each. Small or sedentary folks may well be satisfied with a 1- or 1.5-cup serving.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, ketogenic diet

Apples are the primary source of carbohydrates in this recipe.

Ingredients:

2 apples, raw, medium size, skin on, diced (I used Red Delicious; consider Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala)

3 celery stalks, 8-inches long (20 cm), diced

1 cup (240 ml) walnuts, broken by hand into small chunks (Option for ? more flavor: toast in a skillet over medium-high heat for 7-10 minutes or in oven (350 F or 175 C) on baking sheet for 10 minutes

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) black pepper, ground

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) salt

1.5 tbsp (22 ml) walnut oil

1 tbsp (15 ml) cider vinegar

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cinnamon

1/4 tsp (1.2 ml) nutmeg

Instructions:

First make a dressing with the bottom six ingredients. I put mine in a small container with a lid, then shook vigorously. Or you can put them in a small bowel and whisk them.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, ketogenic diet

Walnut pieces

Place the walnuts, apples and celery in a bowel, add the dressing and toss thoroughly. You’re done.

Serve as is, or chill first in the refrigerator. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought it tasted better after it sat on the counter for 10 minutes. Consider serving on a bed of lettuce (1-2 oz), but if you do, increase your digestible carb count by 1-2 grams.

If you want more calories or protein than this recipe provides, chicken or steak should go well with Waldorfian salad and won’t increase your carb grams.

Number of Servings: 2 (2 cups each)

Nutritional Analysis:

73% fat

21% carbohydrate

6% protein

500 calories

27.5 g carbohydrate

7.6 g fiber

20 g digestible carbohydrate

341 mg sodium

529 mg potassium

Prominent features: High in copper and manganese, low in sodium. This is vegetarian (so much for the paleo diet being meat-centric). On a 2,000 calorie diet, this provides only 15% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein, so you’ll want to eat more protein at some point during the day.

This Is What Natural Cashews Look Like

natural cashews, cashew apple

Cashews fresh off the tree. They’re fruits, not nuts.

A few quotes on cashews from what I think is “Medium”:

In the case of the cashew, someone, somewhere, a long time ago determined that it had to be roasted. The cashew was once nicknamed the blister nut, because if you try to eat it raw from the tree, your mouth pays the price. The cashew is not a nut, however; it’s a seed. On the tree, the fruit that contains it looks like a bloated green kidney bean or a boxing glove dangling comically below an upside-down red or yellow bell pepper, the swollen stalk of the fruit, called the cashew apple.

Just as the cashew isn’t really a nut, this so-called apple is a false fruit. Nonetheless, it’s juicy and edible, but it’s too perishable to ship, lasting only a day off the tree before becoming moldy and starting to rot, which is why it’s not sold in the United States. But in warmer countries…

*  *  *

Unlike other nuts (false or otherwise), cashews aren’t sold in the shell. That is because the testa skin, the inner lining between the outer shell (the actual fruit) and the kernel (the cashew), is toxic. A relative of poison ivy and poison sumac, the cashew contains the same rash-inducing chemicals, known as urushiols, as its kin. Heating the whole green fruit hardens this toxic stuff, allowing it to be separated from the seed. Once removed, this caustic goo is used in industrial materials such as waterproof paint, varnishes, lacquers, and brake linings, and meanwhile, cashew workers often suffer from skin and eye irritations and minor burns. The processing of cashews is therefore incredibly labor intensive, since most of the many steps—roasting, burning, boiling, soaking, cracking, and peeling—are completed by hand, labor performed by workers in factories primarily in India and Brazil.

Read the whole thing.