Joan Sabaté MD, DrPH, is Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health where he directs the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle and Disease Prevention. Originally from Spain, Dr. Sabaté is a board certified physician in Internal Medicine who moved to the U.S.A. to further train in Public Health Nutrition. He obtained a doctorate in Nutrition and a Fellowship in Nutritional Epidemiology.
Dr. Sabaté was the principal investigator of a nutrition intervention trial that directly linked the consumption of walnuts to significant reductions in serum cholesterol, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993. The Archives of Internal Medicine later published his findings of a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials establishing the benefits of nut consumption on blood lipid levels and lowering the risk of heart disease. He has been the principal investigator of many clinical trials investigating the health effects of nuts and other plant foods.
Dr. Sabaté is co-investigator of the Adventist Health Studies, prospective epidemiological studies relating dietary intake with health outcomes that have the largest cohort of vegetarians. He is editor of the reference book Vegetarian Nutrition published by CRC Press, and was the principal architect of the Vegetarian Food Guide Pyramid released in 1987 at the 3rd International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition and redesigned in 2008. He has been chair of the 4th, 5 th and 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition, and edited the congress proceedings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
For the past 10 years, Dr. Sabaté has co-directed the Environmental Nutrition research program at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. This program explores the interrelationships between the environmental and health impacts of food choices, and ultimately seeks to improve the sustainability, health and equity of food systems.
We published two landmark studies in the early 1990’s that positioned nuts in the public interest as heart-healthy foods: the prospective Adventist Health Study, which for the first time linked nut consumption to lower risk of coronary heart disease; and a dietary intervention trial showing that walnuts lowered blood cholesterol. Since then, epidemiological and clinical research on the health effects of nuts has increased exponentially, confirming the cardioprotective properties of nuts. Cohort studies have consistently shown that nut consumption reduces rates of CVD and stroke. Randomized trials have steadily documented that nut consumption improves the lipid profile, and lowers markers of inflammation and cardiometabolic parameters. Some studies have also provided sugestive evidence for reduced risk of diabetes and some cancers. The protective effects of nuts are observed for both men and women, across age and race groups and geographic locations, and importantly, different background diets. Vegetarians have the same or greater benefits by nut consumption than non-vegetarians.Nuts are seeds high in unsaturated fats and rich in vitamins, minerals, and bioactive phytochemicals. These nutrients and compounds synergize to positively impact metabolic and vascular physiology pathways. The nutrient-dense matrix of nuts also contain complex carbohydrate, fiber, protein, tocopherols, phytosterols, and polyphenols. Since nuts are high in fat, they are often perceived as promoting weight gain. However, several epidemiological studies in Europe and the USA show an inverse relationship between nut intake and body weight. In several epidemiological studies, nut consumption was associated with longevity. Thus, nuts may be considered natural capsules easily incorporated into any diet to promote health.