Nuts to you (and to me too)

I just read an abstract in the My 10, 2010 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine, having had my curiosity tweaked by a short piece in today's Wall Street Journal. There's a reason I always want to check the source material in the medical literature. When I was a Nephrology research fellow and attended on the clinical service a few months a year, a former patient came to me and asked if I'd read a chapter from a book his father, who had an unusual kidney disease, wanted to follow advice from. The book was written by a famous lifestyle guru and the writing and references cited were quite impressive. My patient knew that my boss was a field editor for two peer-reviewed research journals and that I, therefore, as part of my duties, critically read a half dozen articles a week prior to their being accepted (or rejected) for publication.

I picked twenty articles from the pertinent chapter and then went to the medical library. The book's author had claimed they all supported her concepts of what kidney patients should do. But, after reading them carefully, I concluded that not a single article had said what she claimed it did. Lesson learned and retained.

So the WSJ article talked about the health benefits of eating nuts, specifically tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macademia nuts, pistachios and also peanuts (which turn out to be a legume). They mentioned a series of studies on the subject.

In this case, when I found data on the lead researcher, an Internal Medicine physician who heads a deptament at a California university, I saw that he had a longterm interest in nuts and had pooled data from 25 nut consumption trials done on subjects of both genders, who were not taking any medication for elevated lipids or had normal lipids to start with.

The short form of the study's results would be eating nuts is good for you, can reduce your blood fats, if, and this is a big if, you're not obese to start with.  More nuts, roughly 2.4 ounces a day, led to better results than lesser amounts.

So I went to our big chest freezer, found a sack of walnuts and one of almonds, and we will start regularly adding nuts to our daily diet.

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