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Patients with diverticular disease are often advised to avoid eating nuts, seeds, corn, and popcorn to prevent disease exacerbation. But a large study suggests that eating these foods doesn't increase the risk of diverticulosis or diverticular complications after all.


The study included 47,228 men ages 40 to 75 years who at the start of the study didn't have diverticulosis or its complications, cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. All of the men returned a food frequency questionnaire. Twenty-seven percent of men reported eating nuts at least twice a week, which was considered the highest intake; 15% said they ate corn and popcorn at least twice per week.


During 18 years of follow-up, researchers found 801 cases of diverticulitis and 383 cases of diverticular bleeding. They were surprised to find an inverse association between nut and popcorn consumption and the risk of diverticulitis.


After adjusting for other variables for diverticular complications, researchers found that men with the highest intake of nuts had a 20% lower risk of getting diverticulitis compared with men who ate nuts less than once per month. Men with the highest intake of popcorn had a 28% lower risk of diverticulitis, compared with men who ate it less than once per month. Researchers didn't find any significant association between corn consumption and diverticulitis or between diverticular bleeding and nut, corn, or popcorn consumption.

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Strate LL, Liu YL, Syngal S, Aldoori WH, Giovannucci EL. Nut, corn, and popcorn consumption and the incidence of diverticular disease. J Am Med Assoc. 2008; 300(8):907-914.