According to a study conducted by Columbia University’s Department of Medicine, nuts and seeds have been found to decrease inflammation in blood vessels. As a result, there’s a reduction in the risk of developing the cluster of increased risk factors for heart disease called Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X), as well as Type 2 Diabetes.
The study looked at about 6,000 individuals between the ages of 45 and 84. Researchers found that individuals who ate nuts and seeds five or more times a week had a decrease level of inflammatory markers, which are specific proteins in your body used to monitor inflammation. (1)
Inflammation is the body’s response to injury which causes white blood cells to be released into the bloodstream. Although this is a natural process, it can damage blood vessels. Some triggers of inflammation include exposure to increased insulin, elevated LDL “bad" cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, smoking and exposure to second hand smoke and infections. Inflammation has been long associated with heart disease and new studies are showing it may also be linked to Type 2 Diabetes.
Plaque build-up may occur in inflamed blood vessels, leading to a narrowing of the diameter, which impedes blood flow and can increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
The actual link between inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes is still being studied. But the connection may be due to the fact that Type 2 Diabetics are often overweight and suffering from elevated blood sugar levels – a key factor associated with inflammation. (2)
Walnuts are a healthy snack choice because they are high in mono-unsaturated fats and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to decreased inflammation via lower LDL cholesterol and higher levels of HDL “good" cholesterol.
Raw almonds are also good for you, as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, which taste delicious sprinkled on salads.
(1) Jiang R, Jacobs DR Jr, Mayer-Davis E, Szklo M, Herrington D, Jenny NS, Kronmal R, Barr RG. Nut and seed consumption and inflammatory markers in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis. Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Feb 1;163(3):222-31. Epub 2005 Dec 15. PMID: 16357111
(2) Park J, Choe SS, Choi AH, Kim KH, Yoon MJ, Suganami T, Ogawa Y, Kim JB. Increase in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase in adipocytes stimulates oxidative stress and inflammatory signals. Diabetes. 2006 Nov;55(11):2939-49. PMID: 17065329
Dr. Shackelton is a founding partner of Insulite Laboratories. She directs research and development of the formulas comprising the four Insulite Systems and those in development. Her study of the biochemical and physiological reasons for weight gain led to her focus on Insulin Resistance – the abnormal response of insulin to glucose - and its growing number of related conditions. http://w.ww.pcos.insulitelabs.com/