Study: Greater Nut Intake Associated with Fewer Strokes

Researchers theorize that the nutritional profile of nuts, along with the emerging evidence that nuts have a beneficial effect on the vascular system, may be the reason for the association.

A meta-analysis of published studies shows that nut intake is associated with reduced risk of stroke, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports on July 29, 2016. The study was authored by Chuan Shao, of the Department of Neurosurgery at Nanchong Central Hospital in Sichuan, China, and colleagues.

According to the authors, the analysis aimed “to quantify the effects of nut intake on a risk of stroke by a dose-response meta-analysis with a random-effects model.” They used two databases to identify 11 articles encompassing 14 cohort studies which met predefined criteria. The studies investigated the link between nut consumption and stroke risk. Eight of the studies included were conducted in the US, 2 in China, and 1 each in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany.

“Our meta-analysis of 14 prospective cohort studies from eleven publications provides evidence that nut intake is inversely associated with risk of stroke and linear association between nut intake and stroke risk did not exist,” report the authors. They theorize that the nutritional profile of nuts, along with the emerging evidence that nuts have a beneficial effect on the vascular system, may be the reason for the association.

The reviewers were unable to find enough information about whether or not different kinds of nuts have different effects on stroke risk, and suggest that future studies should examine the “anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity” of various types of nuts and their relation to stroke risk.

The high-fat content of nuts could lead to weight gain, the reviewers caution. However, they add that “there is considerable scientific evidence that frequent ingestion of nuts did not have adverse effects on energy balance or body weight.”

Finally, the reviewers note that there are discrepancies between present analysis and those on the topic previously published. Although there are some limitations to this study, the authors believe that the performance of power analysis and the high quality of the studies included make the findings reliable.