Nuts and health outcomes: new epidemiologic evidence

Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1643S-1648S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736Q. Epub 2009 Mar 25.


This article reviews recent epidemiologic evidence on nut intake and health outcomes. It focuses on studies in which nut consumption is directly assessed or when nuts are included in a dietary score or pattern. Epidemiologic studies have been remarkably consistent in showing an association between nut consumption and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Some evidence has emerged recently to suggest health-protective benefits of nuts other than CHD. Frequent nut intake probably reduces risk of diabetes mellitus among women, but its effects on men are unknown. Evidence on the anticarcinogenic effects of nuts is somewhat limited because studies in the past 2 decades have examined only 3 tumor sites, and the benefits appear to be manifested only in women. However, the protective benefits of frequent nut consumption on gallstone diseases are observed in both sexes. Long-term nut consumption is linked with lower body weight and lower risk of obesity and weight gain. A dietary pattern or score that includes nuts is consistently related with beneficial health outcomes, and this provides an indirect evidence of the salutary benefits of nut consumption. More longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the possible effects of nuts on diseases other than CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Nuts*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • United States / epidemiology