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.
© 2016 American Society for Nutrition.