(NaturalNews) A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Barcelona in collaboration with the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, reveals that eating nuts can elevate serotonin levels in the bodies of individuals suffering from metabolic syndrome (which puts them at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes). Unfortunately, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the USA alone has been estimated at approximately 25%.
Serotonin is an important hormone and neurotransmitter with a dual function in the human body. While it is located mostly in the enterochromaffin cells in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movement, smaller amounts of serotonin can also be found in the central nervous system, where it helps regulate mood, appetite and sleep. Moreover, elevated serotonin levels correlate positively with good heart health.
In the study carried out by the Spanish team, only one ounce of mixed nuts (revealed to be walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds) per day was sufficient to produce noteworthy results. In addition to their influence on serotonin levels, nuts are also a good source of heart-healthy antioxidants. Another study carried out earlier this year revealed that walnuts contain higher quality antioxidants than any other nuts. Furthermore, nuts have a longstanding reputation as reliable sources of protein, while also containing important vitamins, unsaturated fats, minerals and dietary fiber.
Dr Cristina Andres-Lacueva of the University of Barcelona insisted that the rising numbers of obesity cases we have seen around the world are a clear indicator that more and more people are developing metabolic syndrome. The prevailing symptoms of this disorder include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, but even slight dietary modifications, such as an increased consumption of nuts, can help patients regain control over their bodies, improve their metabolic rates and boost their energy levels.
"Because of the important role of serotonin in the regulation of energy balance, metabolism, and glucose homeostasis, attention should also be given in the future to the eventual effects of nut intake on the serotoriemic status of subjects with metabolic syndrome", explained the scientists.
For their test, the research team asked a group of 22 individuals that had been previously diagnosed with metabolic syndrome to consume a nut-rich diet, for a period of 12 weeks. These results were then compared to those of a second group of 20 individuals, who were told to avoid consuming any nuts over the 12 week duration of the trial.
The Spanish scientists then analyzed urine samples from both groups, and identified several important differences that could be linked to the presence or absence of nuts from one's diet. Their most important discovery was that nut consumption had effectively boosted serotonin production for the individuals in the test group. Dr Cristina Andres-Lacueva's team holds that this is the first instance when a laboratory study is able to confirm that nut consumption can effectively reduce cardiovascular risk factors in people with metabolic syndrome.
The research was published in the prestigious Journal of Proteome Research of the American Chemical Society.
Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general. In 2010, Michelle created RawFoodHealthWatch.com, to share with people her approach to the raw food diet and detoxification.