Evidence from observational and intervention studies has shown a high intake of tree nuts is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), mortality from type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and all-cause mortality. However, there is limited data regarding their effects on indicators of cardiometabolic risk other than hypercholesterolemia, and little is known about the demonstrable health benefits of pecans (Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) K.Koch). We conducted a randomized, controlled feeding trial to compare the effects of a pecan-rich diet with an isocaloric control diet similar in total fat and fiber content, but absent nuts, on biomarkers related to CVD and T2DM risk in healthy middle-aged and older adults who are overweight or obese with central adiposity. After 4 weeks on a pecan-rich diet, changes in serum insulin, insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and beta cell function (HOMA-β) were significantly greater than after the control diet (p < 0.05). Pecan consumption also lowered the risk of cardiometabolic disease as indicated by a composite score reflecting changes in clinically relevant markers. Thus, compared to the control diet, the pecan intervention had a concurrent and clinically significant effect on several relevant markers of cardiometabolic risk.
Keywords: HOMA-IR; diabetes; glucoregulation; heart disease; insulin; metabolic syndrome; obesity; pecan; polyphenol; tree nut.