Purpose of review: This review summarizes evidence for metabolic health benefits of tree nuts and groundnuts (peanuts). While a role for nuts in the dietary management of LDL-cholesterol is well established, it is evident that regular consumption of nuts may also help to counteract other cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors.
Recent findings: Nuts are not only energy dense foods, they are rich sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and other bioactive nutrients with important metabolic effects. Contrary to expectations, epidemiological studies indicate that regular consumption of nuts is unlikely to contribute to obesity or increased risk of diabetes. In fact, it may help to regulate body weight by suppressing appetite and fat absorption. Nut consumption counteracts dyslipidemia and has the capacity to improve circulatory function through the actions of multiple constituents (arginine, polyphenols) on endothelial mechanisms.
Summary: Nuts are densely packaged nutrients with wide-ranging cardiovascular and metabolic benefits, which can be readily incorporated in healthy diets. Their potential role in counteracting obesity and the metabolic syndrome warrants further investigation.