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Nov 26, 2013

Nut Consumption Linked to Longevity

Study finds that regular consumption of nuts could lower risk of death by as much as 20%.

Nuts are filled with heart-healthy nutrients like “good” fats that help reduce risk for heart disease and diabetes. And just in case you needed yet another reason to incorporate nuts into your diet, a recent study shows that they could help you live longer, too.

This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and analyzed data from two of the oldest and largest studies—the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Together, these studies encompassed almost 119,000 male and female health professionals, many of whom were followed for as long as 30 years.

During this time span, researchers collected a wealth of information on diet from healthy participants (with no history of heart disease, cancer or stroke), including how often they ate nuts. Based on their responses, participants were lumped into six groups: those who never eat nuts, those who eat nuts less than once a week, exactly once a week, two to four times per week, five or six times per week, and seven or more times per week. Researchers also collected information on mortality and among the roughly 119,000 men and women included in the study, there were 27,429 deaths.

After analysis, researchers found that regular nut consumption was associated with reduced mortality risk and in general, the more nuts a person ate, the lower their risk of death. Compared to subjects who didn’t eat nuts, individuals who ate nuts less than once a week had 11% lower risk of death and those who ate nuts seven or more times a week had 20% lower risk of death. Study data also confirmed that regular nut consumption reduced risk of death due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence that nuts boast many important health benefits and should be incorporated into a balanced, heart-healthy diet. But given these benefits, it’s important to remember that as with most foods, moderation is key. In this study and generally speaking, one serving equaled one ounce of nuts, which is relatively small. For example, one ounce of nuts is equivalent to 18 cashews, 24 almonds, 28 peanuts or 49 pistachios. And while nuts contain heart-healthy fats, plenty of vitamins and nutrients and are a good source of protein, they also pack a good amount of calories. One ounce of nuts contains anywhere from 160–200 calories, so portion control is important. Having a handful of nuts a day is a great addition to any heart-healthy diet, but be careful not to go overboard and eat half a can of nuts in one sitting.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What makes nuts heart-healthy?
  • Nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein and disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. As such, regular consumption of nuts has been shown to prevent heart disease and diabetes.
  • What is a heart-healthy diet?

  • A heart-healthy diet is full of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and includes low-fat dairy, fish and nuts as part of a balanced diet. It’s important to limit intake of added sugars, salt (sodium) and bad fats (saturated and trans fats).

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