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Despite evidence linking regular nut consumption with reduced chronic disease risk, population-level intakes remain low. Research suggests nut-promoting advice from doctors facilitates regular nut consumption. However, there is no information on current nut recommendation practices of health professionals. The aim of the present study was to examine the advice provided by health professionals regarding nut consumption.
In this cross-sectional study, participants were invited to complete a survey including questions about their nut recommendation practices.
New Zealand (NZ).
The NZ Electoral Roll was used to identify dietitians, general practitioners and practice nurses.
In total 318 dietitians, 292 general practitioners and 149 practice nurses responded. Dietitians were more likely (82·7 %) to recommend patients increase consumption of nuts than general practitioners (55·5 %) and practice nurses (63·1 %; both P<0·001). The most popular nuts recommended were almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts, with most health professionals recommending raw nuts. The most common recommendation for frequency of consumption by dietitians and practice nurses was to eat nuts every day, while general practitioners most frequently recommended 2–4 times weekly, although not statistically significantly different between professions. Dietitians recommended a significantly greater amount of nuts (median 30 g/d) than both general practitioners and practice nurses (20 g/d; both P<0·001).
Dietitians were most likely to recommend consumption of nuts in accordance with current guidelines, but there are opportunities to improve the adoption of nut consumption recommendations for all professions. This may be a viable strategy for increasing population-level nut intakes to reduce chronic disease.
Despite considerable evidence supporting the health benefits of regular nut consumption, nut intakes remain lower than recommended among many populations. Understanding how the general population perceives nuts could inform strategies to promote regular nut consumption and increase intakes among the general public.
Cross-sectional study. Participants were invited to complete a questionnaire which included information on nut consumption and knowledge and perceptions of nuts.
The study was set in New Zealand (NZ).
Participants (n 1600), aged 18 years or over, were randomly selected from the NZ electoral roll.
A total of 710 participants completed the questionnaire (response rate 44 %). More than half of the respondents believed that nuts are healthy, filling, high in protein and high in fat. The most common reason cited by consumers for eating nuts was taste (86 % for nuts, 85 % for nut butters), while dental issues was the most frequent reason for avoidance. About 40 % of respondents were not aware of the effects of nut consumption on lowering blood cholesterol and CVD risk.
Despite overall basic knowledge of the nutritional value of nuts, a substantial proportion of the general population was unaware of the cardioprotective effects of nuts. The present study identified common motivations for eating and avoiding nuts, as well as perceptions of nuts which could affect intake. These should guide the content and direction of public health messages to increase regular nut consumption. The public’s knowledge gaps should also be addressed.