Hey, all of you nut eaters, did you know that you may live longer because of your simple dietary choice? Snack on!
Eating nuts frequently is now associated with a lower risk of death, according to a study in the United States, notably the largest of its kind.
Researchers found that by eating 28 g of nuts — roughly the amount contained within a small, store-bought bag — seven or more times every week, participants reduced their risk of death by 20 percent. Salted, roasted or raw nuts was not specified in the study, but the healthiest option is raw and unsalted, nutritionists agree, with walnuts (packed with omega-3 fatty acids) and almonds (high in protein, fiber, vitamin E and calcium) top choices for most nutritional benefits.
The nut research was conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Indiana University, Harvard University’s Medical and Public Health Schools, as well as Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. It was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation — and originally published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.
During their investigation, researchers followed 76,464 female and 42,498 male health professionals in the U.S. for up to 30 years. Participants’ nut consumption was thoroughly questioned at the beginning of the study and then every couple of years. Deaths during the study were closely monitored, too.
They then examined the association between nut consumption and death, taking into account other death factors, including age, race, body mass index (BMI), level of physical activity, smoking, multivitamin use, aspirin use, family and personal history of a number of health conditions, as well as overall diet.
As notes, a few handfuls each day will do the trick. Researchers found that by eating 28 g of nuts seven or more times every week, participants reduced their risk of death by 20 percent.
In fact, those who regularly consumed nuts tended to be more healthy naturally. That’s because nuts contain unsaturated fats, protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. They reportedly help to lower cholesterol, inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as the chance of coronary heart disease. The latter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the leading cause of death for men and women, killing one in four people in the U.S. every year.
Chief researcher Dr. Charles Fuchs, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recently told BBC News: “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease, but we also saw a significant reduction — 11 percent — in the risk of dying from cancer.”
Although the study cannot prove that nuts, in and of themselves, increase life expectancy, the study suggests a possible link between the two and confirms that nuts can be a part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Of course, more than 6 g of salt each day — roughly one full teaspoon — can lead to high blood pressure, the CDC says. So remember, unsalted nuts are always the better option!
Related Reading: Top 10 reasons to eat walnuts every day