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Dieters - Eat More Not Less Of Right Fats

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:56 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Western Diet, Mediterranean Diet, High Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Lipitor

Mediterranean dieters had the best results in reducing metabolic syndrome. 



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ almonds in and out of shell/ author: Koyaanis Qatsi


It used to be that dieters were told not to eat fat.  No more.

Dieters who eat the right kinds of fats – those that come from vegetables and especially nuts and not animal sources – fared the best in this study.

The Spanish study was published in the December 8th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. 

In it, 1,224 people ages 55 to 80, some at high risk for cardiovascular disease, were assigned to one of three groups. 

The control group tried a low-fat diet, the other two groups received quarterly education about the Mediterranean diet.

One Mediterranean diet group added one liter per week of virgin olive oil. The other Mediterranean diet group added 30 grams of mixed nuts.

About 61 percent suffered from metabolic syndrome and were distributed evenly among the three groups.    Metabolic syndrome is believed to be a precursor to cardiovascular disease and it’s estimated that 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome, defined as:

  • a large waistline or an "apple shape"
  • a higher than normal triglyceride level in the blood (that might require medication)
  • a lower than normal level of high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol
  • higher than normal blood pressure
  • and a higher than normal fasting blood sugar

A person with at least three of the symptoms has metabolic syndrome. It affects more than half of the older population about one-quarter of people in the developed countries, according to Bloomberg. 


Who fared best?

After one year, all three groups had fewer people with metabolic syndrome but the group eating the Mediterranean diet with added nuts had the most improvement.  

The prevalence of those with metabolic syndrome on the Mediterranean diet decreased almost 14 percent. Those eating nuts led the improvement, now with 52 percent having those heart risk factors. In the olive oil group, 57 percent had the syndrome. In the low-fat group, there was very little difference after a year in the percentage of people with the syndrome.

Researchers believe the Mediterranean diet with added nuts, improves the metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, and may protect against heart disease.  

"What's most surprising is they found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital said to AP.

People who improved the most added three whole walnuts, seven or eight whole hazelnuts and seven or eight whole almonds.

They did not lose weight but reduced belly fat, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Nuts should be added to a diet to replace junk food such as chips and cookies, not in addition to the typical Western diet.

Nuts help people feel full while also increasing the body's ability to burn fat, said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain to Associated Press.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail. Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol.

Salas-Salvado and another co-author disclose that they are unpaid advisers to nut industry groups. They add their research has been conducted under “standard ethical and scientific rules.”  Peer-review journal editors determined their results were not influenced by food industry ties.


Mediterranean Diet

Look for minimally processed (you may have to cook)

Use olive oil rather than butter or margarine 

Consume nuts and vegetables (nuts add fiber, potassium, the amino acid arginine, calcium and magnesium)

Fish is the first choice for meat. Salmon or oily fish is good. Limit red meat consumption

Choose fruit for dessert

A glass of wine a day is okay (maximum consumption)


The Atkins diet, Fat Flush diet and South Beach diet all are low-carbohydrate. All but the Atkins advocate eating nuts.  #


Anonymous User
Posted by Sonny Crockett
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:04 PM EST

If I remember correctly Dr. Atkins said in a few of his books that macademia nuts make a good snack.
I think the Atkins plan most certainly advocates eating some nuts as a healthy snack.
Sonny Crockett

Anonymous User
Posted by Miguel AWAD
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:07 PM EST

Opinions seem to be contradictory.
Please advice.

Anonymous User
Posted by John
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:38 PM EST

Speaking about nuts and diverticulitis, I suffer from the condition known as diverticulitis. Actually, I did. Changing my diet to include whole grains, and yes plenty of nuts has helped me eliminate any symptons.

I was very leery of nuts before I changed my diet. I experienced incredible pain and extreme irregularity. I believe nuts, seeds got a bad rap. I eat them plentiful and they bother me none.

Anonymous User
Posted by foodandart
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 12:41 PM EST

Nuts generally aren't a problem if the person eating them chews properly and drinks water to help it pass through the body. Slow down when you eat. It's really as simple as that. A good portion of the intestinal problems people have are due less to the food itself, but more the amount and how fast it's consumed.

Doctors seem to always think their patients eat like barnyard hogs and generally advise against something based on those assumptions, and it's frankly, insulting.

Didn't mom always say to chew your food, not inhale it?

Sage advice.

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 1:03 PM EST

right you are. here is the list from atkins.com of nuts and the amount of roughly 5 grams of Net Carbs (total carbs minus fiber).

Nuts and Seeds Serving Size Net Carbs
Almonds 30 nuts 5.2
Brazil nuts 10 nuts 4.0
Cashews 9 nuts 4.4
Hulled sunflower seeds 6 tablespoons 5.0
Macadamias 12 nuts 4.0
Pecans 10 halves 3.0
Pistachios 50 nuts 5.0
Walnuts 14 nuts 5.0

Low carb is the goal (low on the glycemic index). But watch out- Atkins advocates meat and too much causes calcium to leach out of the body, which is bad for osteoporosis. Fat Flush diet recommends no more than 8 oz. of meat a day and has recommendations for high quality Omega fats.

Jane Akre Injury Board Community Member
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 1:15 PM EST

The best summary of diets is from Frontline:


Anonymous User
Posted by Carrie Davenport
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 1:24 PM EST

I am 65 years old presently doing a secretary job and sit alot. i do walk two miles every day and do stretches. I think i eat good food. no bread, snack on raisins ,celery carrots, walnuts,cereal with milk, i want to know what nuts and cereals are the best to snack on.

Anonymous User
Posted by foodandart
Tuesday, December 09, 2008 2:56 PM EST

The best nuts are the harder ones.. Cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazlenuts - brazil nuts are high in fat, but again, it's a plant fat so it's not bad. The best way to get them is of course unroasted and unsalted. Peanuts aren't really nuts and you can pass them up - if not for anything more than how they are grown. Too many chemicals in the soil, as the plant really strips nutrients from it. If you do like peanuts, the best ones to try and find to eat are the small Valencia ones.

Comments for this article are closed.

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