BOSTON, July 29 (UPI) -- Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes are made worse by inflammation, but researchers suggest eating nuts at least a few times a week could reduce inflammatory biomarkers.
Eating a few servings of nuts per week, or replacing meats or grains in some meals with nuts, may help lower the risk or effects of diseases because of their effect on inflammation, report researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Peanuts and tree nuts contain magnesium, fiber, L-arginine, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids that offer protection against inflammation, though researchers note they are unsure which are responsible for the effect.
The Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers have previously linked nut consumption with a decreased risk for chronic disease and death, with a clearer explanation in the new study, they say.
"Much remains unknown about how our diet influences inflammation and, in turn, our risk of disease," Dr. Ying Bao, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's, said in a press release. "But our study supports an overall healthful role for nuts in the diet and suggests reducing inflammation as a potential mechanism that may help explain the benefits of nuts on cardiometabolic diseases."
For the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers analyzed data from food-frequency questionnaires and plasma biomarkers on 5,013 participants in the Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
Based on measures of fasting plasma C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2 -- all biomarkers for inflammation -- researchers found participants who ate five or more servings of nuts per week or substituted red meat, processed meat, eggs or grains with nuts in three meals per week had reduced markers for inflammation than those who didn't.
"Population studies have consistently supported a protective role of nuts against cardiometabolic disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and we know that inflammation is a key process in the development of these diseases," Baosaid. "Our new work suggests that nuts may exert their beneficial effects in part by reducing systemic inflammation."