Recently (last November and December are “recent” to me), there were a bunch of articles circulating around in various papers about the benefits of eating nuts and how more people should eats nuts every day because nuts are good for you in all kinds of ways. This was in response to a Harvard study, Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality, published in the November 21st, 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, incidentally, isolated nut consumption as a factor and found that there is a relationship between eating large amounts of nuts and reduced chances of mortality. However, the study was not part of a clinical trial. It wasn’t comprised of subjects under controlled circumstances. It was a study that involved massive data analysis of existing studies and added data of its own that was collected “every 2 to 4 years.”
Today, I came across this headline: “Nuts Bad for Oral Health.” Now, if you’d only read the headline, you’d have thought it was another study about people suffering from terrible tooth decay after their excessive consumption of nuts. Look out all you raw vegans! But, no. That isn’t the situation at all. This study is of prehistoric humans who “suffered tooth decay, halitosis.” The opening line states, “Paleo dieters, be warned. Nuts and acorns severely diminished the oral health of early humans.” I laughed out loud. Is this article really meant to save people from the hazards of nuts? You know, I’ve been to the (totally awesome) Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago many times and I’ve learned that, long ago, humans had tooth problems because of all the ground corn they ate. Is it time to push the panic button and make some alarmist statement about the hazards of corn, too? Obviously, oral hygiene is a fairly recent advance in history (according to its website, toothpaste.com, Crest claims that toothpaste came about around 5000 B.C., 10,000 years too late for our nut-eating ancestors. Them’s the breaks, guys.) Anyone who takes care of their teeth, and there are many resources available to do that, should be just fine. The mere mention of halitosis as a fright factor is a bit ridiculous, too. I eat a lot of garlic in my food. Bad breath goes with it. Should I stop eating garlic? Will halitosis make me keel over and die? Hardly.
In general, I would not eschew nuts or make them the sole part of my diet if I were you. Dietary components viewed in isolation might give one an opportunity to reflect about one’s own diet and how it could be improved. But, I am a firm believer that the human body is a lover of variety of all the beautiful foods that the plant world has to offer.
In the meantime, I am eagerly awaiting a study about how beans give you powerful flatulence.