OLDER adults who added hazelnuts to their diet for a few months significantly improved their levels of two key micronutrients, according to a new research.
Results showed increased blood concentrations of magnesium of study participants and elevated urinary levels of a breakdown product of alpha tocopherol, commonly known as vitamin E.
Older adults are at particular risk -- lower concentrations of the micronutrients are associated with increased risk of age-related health problems including Alzheimer's disease.
The study made by researchers at the Oregon State University was first on hazelnut effects on older adults only.
Maret Traber, the study's corresponding author, noted that she and her collaborators used a novel biomarker -- an alpha tocopherol metabolite -- to determine hazelnuts had improved the research subjects' vitamin E levels.
They particularly look into the urine to see how much of a vitamin E catabolite was in it. The catabolite should only increase if the body is getting enough vitamin E.
The catabolite, an alpha carboxyethyl hydroxychromanol, is basically a vitamin E molecule where the tail has been chewed up into nothing, part of the natural breakdown process of vitamin E as the body uses it. They saw Alpha-CEHC levels go up in almost every participant in their urine sample.
In addition, blood analysis showed decreases in glucose and bad cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins) as the magnesium in their blood increases.
"All of which says that hazelnuts are good for you," Traber said. "The findings demonstrate the power of adding hazelnuts to your diet, of just changing one thing. Vitamin E and magnesium are two of the most underconsumeD micronutrients by may elders.
Hazelnuts are also a great source of healthy fats, copper and B6. People don't like taking multivitamins, but hazelnuts represent a multivitamin in a natural form. (Oregon State University)