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From The Desk Of Clarence Bass

Chef Jeff Goes Nuts!

Good News on the "good fat" front.

Jeffrey S. Novick, R.D., L.D., better known as Chef Jeff, the Director of Nutrition at the world renowned Pritikin Longevity Center on Miami Beach in Florida, has concluded that adding a little "good fat," as suggested in article #18 on this site, may be a pretty good idea. He seems to have upgraded from "maybe" to "very possible" on whether it was the small amount of added fat that brought my cholesterol down 21% and cut my triglycerides in half. (For Jeff's previous comments, see article # 20 on this site.)

Based on a study appearing last month in the British Medical Journal, and other recent evidence, Jeff says, "I don't think we disagree too much." His only cautions are for the overweight and the critically ill. "Also I would prefer to see someone add the 'good fat' in the form of nuts and seeds [rather than] oil," he adds.

I'll let Jeff tell you the rest. This is how he related the convincing new evidence in his weekly electronic "Health Tips."

Going Nuts!!
Chef Jeff's Weekly Health Tips
November 16, 1998

Over the last few years, several studies have suggested that including nuts in your diet can lower your risk for heart disease.

A study on the benefits of consuming nuts in the diet recently appeared in the November 14, 1998 issue of the British Medical Journal. Women who consumed nuts 5 times per week had about a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those women who rarely ate nuts. They concluded that "frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of both fatal coronary heart disease and non-fatal myocardial infarction. These data, and those of other epidemiological and clinical studies, support a role for nuts in reducing coronary heart disease risk ". (1)

Several studies have reported similar benefits and it has been suspected that part of the reason for this benefit was because maybe those subjects who ate more nuts also had a healthier lifestyle and ate less meat. But that was not the case this time.

A detailed analyses in this study took these factors into account and a clear and statistically significant risk reduction still persisted independently for the nuts.

The subjects who ate nuts did tend to eat less meat than those who rarely ate nuts, but the differences were small, and very few of the subjects were vegetarians. The study also adjusted for intakes of vegetables, fruits, red meat, and fat, but this did not appreciably alter the results either. Also, further analysis still showed an independent protective effect for the nuts.

These results are consistent with several other epidemiological studies.

In the Adventist Health Study, subjects who consumed nuts 5 times per week had a 50% reduced risk of coronary heart disease than those who never consumed nuts. (2)

In the Iowa Women's Health Study, women who consumed nuts 2-4 times per week had a significantly lower risk of death from coronary heart disease then those who almost never consumed nuts.(3)

The Physicians' Health Study, which is following 22,000 male doctors who were healthy when they began the study, found that those who ate nuts had the lowest rate of heart disease, and that those who ate the most nuts had the lowest risk of dying from heart disease. The researchers concluded that one of the active factors in nuts responsible for this benefit was the
omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Another study found that a moderately high fat diet (25%) which consisted mainly of low-energy vegetables, fruit, and nuts markedly reduced lipid risk factors for CVD in healthy adults. Ten healthy men and women ate their usual diet (29% fat) and a diet consisting of mainly of leafy and other low-energy vegetables, fruit and nuts (25% fat) for 2 weeks each in random order. After subjects ate the vegetarian diet, mean LDL level was reduced 33%, total cholesterol/HDL ratio was reduced
21%, ratio of apo B to apo A-1 reduced 23%, and lipoprotein (a) reduced 24% than after subjects ate their usual diet. These reductions were 34-49% greater than would be predicted by typical changes in dietary fat and cholesterol intakes. (4)

It seems very possible that nut consumption can in fact reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Some people are worried because nuts are high in fat. Nuts are high in fat, but the fat is mostly unsaturated fat, (5) which has been shown to have beneficial effects on blood lipids. (6) One study randomized 18 men with normal serum cholesterol concentrations to either a control diet or a diet enriched with walnuts and then switched the diets after 4 weeks. (7) Both diets conformed to those of the national cholesterol education program. In the walnut diet, walnuts provided 20% of calories, replacing animal and visible fat.(7) The walnut diet lowered the ratio of serum concentrations of low density lipoprotein: high density lipoprotein by 12%. Diets supplemented with almonds have also shown a cholesterol lowering effect.(8,9)

As well as having potential beneficial effects on blood lipids, nuts may protect against coronary heart disease through other mechanisms. (10, 11). Nuts are high in magnesium, which may decrease heart-rhythm disturbances. Most nuts are also rich in arginine, the precursor of nitric oxide, an endothelium derived relaxing factor.(12) Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator and can inhibit platelet adhesion and aggregation. Walnuts are high in the essential fatty acid, linolenic acid (about 10% of weight).

Several studies have shown that high intakes of linolenic acid may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, possibly due to the anti-clotting effects of linolenic acid. (13, 14) Other possible explanations for benefits of nuts include their high content of copper, folic acid, protein, potassium, fiber, and vitamin E.(5, 15)

The "key points" from these studies are....

Nuts are high in fat, but most of the fatty acids are unsaturated
Frequent consumption of nuts, including peanuts, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
This protective effect may be partly explained by the beneficial effects on serum lipids that unsaturated fats have. Other potentially protective constituents include vegetable protein, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber and potassium.
Nuts can be included as part of a healthy diet.

Remember though, that because nuts are high in fat (even if it is the good fat) they are still a highly concentrated source of calories. One 1/4 cup of nuts has about 200 calories and does not produce a high level of satiety (or bang for your buck, so to say!). It is very easy to quickly consume a handful of nuts and consequently consume about 600 - 800 calories without really realizing it.

[At this point Chef Jeff referred his readers to article # 20 on this site]

If you are trying to lose weight, or manage other conditions that are related to being overweight (including Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Cancer) then don't go "overboard" on the nuts. And for the *best* success and benefit, reduce the amount of animal protein in your diet by 1/2 as you increase the amount of nuts.

So for this weeks health tip, here are some easy ways to include some nuts in your diet ... (A Portion = 1 oz Nuts = 2 Tablespoons)

* Sprinkle a few chopped nuts on your oatmeal or other whole grain cereal.
* Add a few nuts to a fruit salad.
* Blend a few nuts into a fruit smoothie
* Spread some nut butter or non hydrogenated peanut butter on some celery sticks or an apple for a snack
* Top a large vegetable salad with some nuts or seeds.
* Blend 1 oz tahini with 1oz lemon juice and 1 oz water for a healthy salad dressing.
* Have a few nuts with some raw veggies or fresh fruit for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
* Add a few nuts to a rice pilaf, or vegetable stir "fry".
* Sprinkle some nuts and lemon juice over steamed vegetables (broccoli almondine)

Well, there you have it. Lots of good evidence that nuts can be an important part of your diet. So, I don't know about you, but I think I am ......... Going Nuts!! :)

Have another great week, and remember...Your Health Is Your Greatest Wealth!

In Health,
Chef Jeff

CB: Thanks Jeff, for allowing us to share your latest "Health Tips" with readers of our page. Sounds like the peanut-butter-sandwich lunch I had for years was an even better idea than I realized. Hmmm, it's time for lunch. Believe I'll have a raw nut butter sandwich.

Chef Jeff  will soon have his own personal website which we will highlight here as soon as it goes "live." If you want to receive weekly Health Tips from Chef Jeff e-mail him at ChefJeff7@worldnet.att.net.

(1) Hu, FB, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study BMJ 1998; 317:1341-1345
(2) Fraser GE, Sabate J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med 1992; 152: 1416-1424
(3) Prineas RJ, Kushi LH, Folsom AR, Bostick RM, Wu Y. Walnuts and serum lipids. N Engl J Med 1993; 328: 603-607
(4) Jenkins KJA, Popovich DG, et al. Effects of a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and nuts on serum lipids. Metabolism:Clinical and Experimental, 46, April 97, 530-537.
(5) Dreher ML, Maher CV. The traditional and emerging role of nuts in healthful diets. Nutr Rev 1996; 54: 241-245
(6) Grundy SM, Denke MA. Dietary influences on serum lipids and lipoproteins. J Lipid Res 1990; 31: 1149-1172
(7) Sabate J, Fraser GE, Burke K, Knutsen S, Bennett H, Lindsted KD. Effects of walnuts on serum lipid levels and blood pressure in normal men. N Engl J Med 1993; 328: 603-607
(8) Abbey M, Noakes M, Belling GB, Nestel P. Partial replacement of saturated fatty acids with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59: 995-999
(9) Spiller GA, Jenkins D, Gragen LN, Gates JE, Bosello O, Berra K, et al. Effect of a diet high in monounsaturated fat from almonds on plasma cholesterol and lipoproteins. J Am Coll Nutr 1992; 11: 126-130
(10) Sabate J. Does nut consumption protest against ischemic heart disease. Eur J Clin Nutr 1993; 47: 71-5S.
(11) Fraser GE. Diet and coronary heart disease: beyond dietary fats and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59: 1117-1235.
(12) Cooke JP, Tsao P, Singer A, Wang B-Y, Kosek J, Drexler H. Anti-atherogenic effect of nuts: Is the answer NO? Arch Intern Med 1993; 153: 898-899.
(13) Dolecek TA. Epidemiological evidence of relationships between dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and mortality in the multiple risk factor intervention trial. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med
1992; 200: 177-182
(14) Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, Spiegelman D, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease in men: cohort follow up study in the United States. BMJ 1996; 313: 84-90
(15) Fraser GE. Diet and coronary heart disease: beyond dietary fats and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59: 1117-1235.

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