Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Sep;104(3):722-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.134205. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


Background: Increased nut consumption has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as a healthy lipid profile. However, the associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers are unclear.

Objective: We investigated habitual nut consumption in relation to inflammatory biomarkers in 2 large cohorts of US men and women.

Design: We analyzed cross-sectional data from 5013 participants in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) who were free of diabetes. Nut intake, defined as intake of peanuts and other nuts, was estimated from food-frequency questionnaires, and cumulative averages from 1986 and 1990 in the NHS and from 1990 and 1994 in the HPFS were used. Plasma biomarkers were collected in 1989-1990 in the NHS and 1993-1995 in the HPFS. Multivariate linear regression was used to assess the associations of nut consumption with fasting plasma C-reactive protein (CRP, n = 4941), interleukin 6 (IL-6, n = 2859), and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 (TNFR2, n = 2905).

Results: A greater intake of nuts was associated with lower amounts of a subset of inflammatory biomarkers, after adjusting for demographic, medical, dietary, and lifestyle variables. The relative concentrations (ratios) and 95% CIs comparing subjects with nut intake of ≥5 times/wk and those in the categories of never or almost never were as follows: CRP: 0.80 (0.69, 0.90), P-trend = 0.0003; and IL-6: 0.86 (0.77, 0.97), P-trend = 0.006. These associations remained significant after further adjustment for body mass index. No significant association was observed with TNFR2. Substituting 3 servings of nuts/wk for 3 servings of red meat, processed meat, eggs, or refined grains/wk was associated with significantly lower CRP (all P < 0.0001) and IL-6 (P ranges from 0.001 to 0.017).

Conclusion: Frequent nut consumption was associated with a healthy profile of inflammatory biomarkers.

Keywords: inflammatory biomarkers; nuts; peanut butter; peanuts; substitution; tree nuts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Functional Food*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses
  • Nuts*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seeds*
  • Self Report
  • United States
  • Vasculitis / blood
  • Vasculitis / immunology
  • Vasculitis / prevention & control*


  • Biomarkers
  • Inflammation Mediators