The consumption of nuts could help to boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, possibly leading to improved heart health, decreased feelings of hunger and increased well-being in people suffering from metabolic syndrome. The research, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, reports a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS). The Spanish researchers found that just one ounce of mixed nuts—raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts—per day resulted in increased excretion of serotonin metabolites in the urine.
The researchers pointed out that the study provides the first evidence in humans of the beneficial effects of nut consumption in reducing levels of substances in the body associated with inflammation and other cardiovascular risk factors in patients with metabolic syndrome.
Andres-Lacueva and her team explained that the rise in obesity around the world means more and more patients are suffering from metabolic syndrome—the symptoms of which include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, all of which increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Serotonin is a substance that helps transmit nerve signals and decreases feelings of hunger, makes people feel happier and improves heart health. They added that previous research has suggested that dietary changes—including the regular consumption of nuts—may help patients with MetS shed excess weight and become healthier.
Journal of Proteome Research; 10(11):5047-5058, 2010