Intended for healthcare professionals


Nuts to you (… and you, and you)

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 14 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1332

Eating nuts may be beneficialthough it is unclear why

  1. Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe, Professor (
  1. Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY

    Papers p 1341

    A generation ago the prudent diet for preventing coronary disease was dominated by negative advice. Poverty and food rationing in the 1930-50s had led to the promised land of the 1960s, but it was a monotonous greasy landscape of cakes, pies, chips, sausages, and fry ups, dominated by dairy and processed foods. The “you never had it so good” life was bad for the heart. Prophets of doom emerged from communion with molecules, denouncing cholesterol and issuing dietary commandments, almost all phrased “Thou shalt not eat x.” They were less explicit on what should be eaten. It seemed to be what remained after eliminating the favourites or cutting off the fatty bits. Foods were judged in one dimension—what they did to blood cholesterol.1 Meanwhile a vegetarian subculture, regarded as cranky and unscientific (as many of its adherents were), was promoting fresh and natural foods of vegetable origin.

    The cholesterol monolith was evidence based, but confrontation with sceptics, and …

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