American Federation for Medical Research

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Protective Health Effects of Natural Dietary Products on Disease and Aging
George D. Sandu, Nicholas Caramihai, Argie Agelarakis. Adelphi University, Bayside, New York, United States

Purpose of Study An increased aging population and the alarming prevalence of the obesity epidemic and its related comorbidities, make an imperative demand for different lifestyles and therapeutic strategies that include exercise, natural remedies, and emphasis on dietary shifts with the inclusion of vegetables, fruits, and nuts. This presentation aims to underline the beneficial effects of the addition of different natural products, such as walnuts, to high fat western diets, reflected through a review of animal and human research.
Methods Used Nutrition analysis has shown that walnuts contain components that could play a key role in prevention of atherosclerosis and cancer: phytosterols, n–3 fatty acids, tocopherols and α-linolenic acid. We have reviewed the available evidence suggesting that diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer share common mechanisms as oxidative stress and inflammation, which are impacted by dietary fatty acids.
Summary of Results Research on mice reported that addition of walnuts to a high fat diet did not change body weight or visceral fat mass, but decreased liver size and reduced the amounts of hepatic triglyceride. Animal studies report a protective role for walnuts in inflammation-related cancer mechanisms. In human studies, walnut addition to the diet for 6 months, significantly improved endothelial function and total and LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, a randomized clinical trial shows that daily diet supplementation with walnuts in older adults can induce benefits to the nutrient profile. Limited epidemiological studies consider walnuts separately from nuts in cancer prevention. PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) cohort has been sorting the independent effects of walnuts over a median of 4.8 yr. For those who consumed more than 3 servings of walnuts per week versus none, the multivariate-adjusted HR for death from cancer was 0.46(0.27-0.79, 95% CI, P-trend = 0.005).
Conclusions Analyzing how the addition of certain natural products to an otherwise average or unhealthy diet can affect obesity, aging related comorbidities and cancer, proves useful in today's world by providing information for consumers to use to their advantage. Therefore, investigations of these beneficial effects of dietary changes may be very meaningful in limiting obesity, aging related diseases and cancer from regional and global perspectives.


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