Scientists have reported a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in people with metabolic syndrome. Serotonin is a substance that helps transmit nerve signals and decreases feelings of hunger, improves mood and enhances heart health.
A person is thought to have metabolic syndrome if he or she has a large waist circumference plus two or more of the following: high blood triglycerides (blood fat), high blood pressure, elevated fasting blood glucose and low HDL (good) cholesterol.
The rise in obesity around the world means an increasing number of people have metabolic syndrome. Having metabolic syndrome is thought to double the risk of heart attack and increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by fivefold.
It took eating only one ounce - about ¼ cup - of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) a day to produce these beneficial effects.
Dietary changes may help patients shed the excess weight and become healthier. Dietary changes such as the regular consumption of nuts -- which are packed with healthful nutrients, such as healthy fats (unsaturated fat), minerals and antioxidants -- have been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome.
To check the biochemical effects of nut consumption, the researchers put 22 patients with metabolic syndrome on a nut-enriched diet for 12 weeks and compared them to another group of 20 patients who were told to avoid nuts.
The scientists analyzed a broad spectrum of compounds excreted in the patients' urine and found evidence of several healthful changes. One surprise was evidence that nut consumption had increased patients' levels of serotonin metabolites in urine.
The researchers point out that this study provides the first evidence in humans of the beneficial effects of nut consumption in reducing levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.