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Eating Nuts May Prevent Gallstones

Researchers evaluted nearly 8,000 women who had their gallbladders removed over a 20-year period and found that women who consumed more than one ounce of nuts five times a week or more had a significantly lower risk of gallbladder attacks.

As a complex plant food, nuts contain many nutrients and other bioactive compounds. Nuts are a rich source of dietary fiber. One ounce nuts provides 2.5 grams of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber may protect against cholesterol gallstone formation by decreasing recirculation of secondary bile acids in the intestine and by improving insulin sensitivity. Nuts are also a source of phytosterols, which may lower blood cholesterol by inhibiting dietary cholesterol absorption and thus might contribute to the reduced risk of developing gallstones. Nuts are also a rich source of magnesium. Dietary magnesium has been suggested to play a role in improving insulin sensitivity and hence may decrease the occurrence of gallstones.

Before you use the results of this study to justify going off and eating nuts all the time please be aware that nuts are loaded with calories and it is very easy to overeat them. I have seen large numbers of overweight people who could not lose weight until they stopped eating their nuts. Additionally, the nuts are also high in omega-6 fats and most of us already have far too much omega-6 fat in our diet.

If one examines this study more carefully one will find that compared with the women who rarely consumed nuts, those who consumed nuts frequently tended to be:

  • more physically active
  • thinner
  • less likely to smoke

That supports my recommendation that the absolute best way to prevent gallbladder attacks is to exercise. This will dramatically normalize tryglyceride levels and HDL levels, which are major contributing factors for gallbladder stones. So if you have problems with your gallbladder make sure you are normal body weight and doing 45 minutes of cardiovascular aerobic exercises five times a week.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2004 8(1);76-81

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