Associations between Nut Consumption and Health Vary between Omnivores, Vegetarians, and Vegans

Nutrients. 2017 Nov 6;9(11):1219. doi: 10.3390/nu9111219.


Regular nut consumption is associated with reduced risk factors for chronic disease; however, most population-based studies lack consideration of effect modification by dietary pattern. The UK Women's Cohort Study (UKWCS) provides an ideal opportunity to examine relationships between nut consumption and chronic disease risk factors in a large sample with diverse dietary patterns. Nut and nutrient intake from 34,831 women was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire among self-identified omnivores, vegetarians and vegans. In this cross-sectional analysis, higher nut consumption was associated with lower body weight (difference between highest and lowest consumption categories from adjusted model: 6.1 kg; 95% CI: 4.7, 7.6) body mass index (BMI, 2.4 units difference; 95% CI: 1.9, 2.9), and waist circumference (2.6 cm difference; 95% CI: 1.4, 3.8) (all p for linear trend < 0.001). Higher nut consumption was also associated with reduced prevalence of high cholesterol and high blood pressure; having a history of heart attack, diabetes and gallstones; and markers of diet quality (all adjusted p for linear trend ≤ 0.011). Higher nut consumption appeared overall to be associated with greater benefits amongst omnivores compared to vegetarians and vegans. Findings support existing literature around beneficial effects of nut consumption and suggest that benefits may be larger among omnivores. Nut promotion strategies may have the highest population impact by specifically targeting this group.

Keywords: cancer; cardiovascular disease risk; chronic disease risk; diabetes; nuts; omnivore; predictors; vegan; vegetarian.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuts*
  • Vegans*
  • Vegetarians*