The world's leading nutrition experts and researchers attended NUTS 2022 conference last week to discuss the health research on nuts and dried fruits.
The conference summarised the latest evidence on health benefits of nuts and dried fruits, and the opportunities in research for the future.
Health benefits of nuts and dried fruits
The effects of nut and dried fruit consumption have gained traction over the last years, and supported by growing scientific evidence they have been associated with many health benefits, from cardiovascular health to insulin resistance and diabetes, weight management, lipoproteins and dyslipidemia, inflammation and oxidation, gut health, aging and cognition, and some forms of cancer. More recently, other lines of research have included fertility and nuts and dried fruits as part of sustainable diets. While some areas of research have been put into focus more than others, there is irrefutable evidence that they are nutrient-dense foods with an interesting nutritional composition.
Importance of nuts and dried fruits in healthy diet
The NUTS 2022 participants highlighted how a joint effort must be made to help bring awareness to the importance of including nuts and dried fruits as part of a healthy diet. The benefits of nuts are wide-ranging and include a variety of nutrients, mono- and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and antioxidants, all which have a beneficial effect on health, and dried fruits contain essential nutrients and health-promoting bioactive compounds such as antioxidants.
Nuts and dried fruits in prevention of diabetes
Among the future lines of research discussed in the meeting, experts highlighted the potential role of nuts and dried fruits in the prevention of diabetes, which is of particular relevance in today's world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are currently 537 million people worldwide with diabetes, and this number is projected to reach 700 million people by 2045. Prevalence is increasing worldwide, leading to over 4 million deaths every year, and in countries such as China and India, the number of deaths attributable to diabetes are extremely high: 1.4 million and 648,000 people, respectively. Lifestyle measures and a healthy diet have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes.
NUTS 2022 took place from 20 till 21 October and gathered the brightest minds in the field of nutrition research on nuts and dried fruits, including twenty-five researchers and professors from universities in Europe, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Iran, Turkey, the USA and the UK. Chaired by Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Distinguished Professor at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, the meeting included highly-esteemed researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Loma Linda University, and Penn State University, among others.