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The facts about nuts may seem a little, well, nutty.
On one side, some researchers insist: Nuts and legumes are healthy.
But calorie counters retort: No, they’re not; they are high in fat and calories.
And epidemiologists say: Wait a minute; they help reduce risk of disease.
While the “truth” about nuts apparently changes over time, the largest research study in history that looks at the relationship between nut consumption and mortality reports that there is a very strong correlation between how many servings of nuts people eat per week and a decreased risk of overall mortality by disease. In other words, eating more nuts is associated with a less risk of dying from disease-related causes than for those who rarely indulge in nuts.
What does all this mean?
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School looked at frequency of nut consumption and overall mortality among 76,464 women participating in the Nurse’s Health Study (1980 – 2010) and 42,498 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 – 2010). The results were published in the November 2013 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The research showed a relationship between consumptions of nuts and increase in longevity via a decrease in onset of specific diseases. Let’s look at why this may be the case.
Nuts are high in:
- Unsaturated fats.
Nuts are associated with lower risk of:
- Heart disease.
- Respiratory disease.
- Colon cancer.
- Insulin resistance.
- Type 2 diabetes.
According To Harvard Researchers
People who eat more nuts tend to:
- Be leaner.
- Be more physically active.
- Be non-smokers.
- Consume more fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise more frequently.
- Take nutritional supplements.
How much to eat?
The study showed the best inverse relationship to death by disease was among those who consumed one ounce of nuts daily.
Those who consumed nuts:
- Less than one time per week: 7 percent decrease in mortality.
- One time per week: 11 percent decrease in mortality.
- Two to four times per week: 13 percent decrease in mortality
- Five to six times per week: 15 percent decrease in mortality.
- Seven or more times per week: 20 percent decrease in mortality.
According to Charles S. Suchs, senior study author and director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29-percent in death from heart disease — the major killer of people in America.”
The bottom line: Eat nuts to live longer and live healthier. One serving per day is best.
If grabbing a handful of plain nuts is not appealing each day, then try mixing them with other foods.
The North American Vegetarian Society suggests eating trail mix; mixing nuts with hot breakfast cereals and granolas; and adding them to green leafy salads, soups and chili. Its website offers many suggestions to help make nuts (and legumes and seeds) a robust part of your daily food intake.