According to the American Heart Association, one in every four to five adults in the United States suffers from metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions which is characterized by abdominal obesity (belly fat), and elevated blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This syndrome is associated with higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and even certain forms of cancer.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent this from happening naturally. A healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management and increasing the consumption of tree nuts – such as almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and cashews can help treat this syndrome and reduce the risk of further, more serious health complications such as though mentioned above.
Tree Nuts and Cholesterol
High levels of LDL cholesterol especially when combined with low levels of HDL cholesterol – are concerning because they can easily lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries and this, in turn, greatly increases the risk of heart attacks or strokes. However, it is has been shown that regular consumption of tree nuts can help with this. In one study, published recently in the British Medical Journal, there was a review of 49 studies which looked at the effects of tree nut consumption on patients’ health. On average, participants consumed around 50mg of nuts per day and by the end of these studies, which usually lasted 8 to 12 weeks, a significant drop in cholesterol levels were noted. This is thought to be due to the monounsaturated acids which such nuts are rich in and which promote heart health.
Blood Sugar Control with Tree Nuts
Elevated blood sugar levels are a strong risk factors for the development of Type II diabetes and can lead to damage of the eyes and kidneys, among other organs that are at risk from this condition. However, one study published this year in PLoS One, diets which featured regular consumption of tree nuts drastically lowered AIC levels (a mark of average blood sugar levels for a three month span) as well as fasting blood sugar levels, showing better glycemic control and thus lowering the risk for serious complications.
Tree Nuts Help Reduce Obesity and Blood Pressure
Tree nuts can also help reduce obesity and, by extension blood pressure, since being overweight is a major risk factor for hypertension. There is much evidence to back up the use of tree nuts as a weight loss aid. In one interesting study, participants simply added a handful of almonds to their diet without trying to reduce calories or make any other changes in their diets. It was found that these participants lost weight naturally and the addition of the nuts seemed to help them choose lower-carbohydrate foods and feel less hungry without being aware of it. Again, this helps to take care of both the problem of weight and high blood pressure, since weight loss can help greatly reduce blood pressure levels in and of itself.
So in metabolic syndrome is a problem, consider the addition of tree nuts to a healthy, balanced diet combined with regular exercise. This can greatly reduce the factors that contribute to this syndrome, while at the same time lowering the risk of serious chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
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