Eating Nuts Could Mean Healthier, Longer Lives

Researchers at Dana-Farber conducted a study examining the lifelong positive effects of nuts.

By Megan Tripp | Hub Health |
Nuts image via shutterstock

Nuts image via shutterstock

This year, you can finally feel good about nibbling on those spiced nuts on Christmas Eve. A large group of Boston researchers say that snacking on nuts increases your chances of celebrating many more happy and healthy Christmases with your family.

In a large study involving the Dana-Farber Cancer Insitute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard School of Medicine, researchers discovered that people who ate a daily serving of nuts had a significantly lower chance of dying over a 30 year period—of any cause.

The study tapped into data from previous lifestyle studies conducted by other health organizations: The Nurse’s Health Study that provided data on more than 76,000 women, and the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study that provided data on almost 43,000 men. Both studies took place over the course of roughly 30 years.

While the specific type of nuts which produced these results was not determined, the reduction in mortality rates was similar across the board for those who ate peanuts, tree nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and pine nuts.

Researchers concluded that people who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over the course of the 30 year period under examination. The data showed that people who ate nuts were thinner—dispelling the myth that nuts are fattening—less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and more likely to consume more vitamin supplements, fruits and vegetables, and alcohol. Although these findings were beneficial in examining the positive effects of nuts, these factors were filtered out of the raw data produced by the study in order to focus solely on relationship between mortality and nuts.

The study revealed that those who ate nuts less than once a week had a reduced mortality rate of seven percent. Those who ate nuts once a week had a reduced rate of 11 percent, two to four times a week had a reduction of 13 percent, five to six times a week had a reduction of 15 percent, and more than seven times a week had a reduction of 20 percent.

Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber and senior author of the study said in a press release:

“The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America. But we also saw a significant reduction—11 percent—in the risk of dying from cancer.”

Although the authors of the study insist that the findings cannot definitively prove the relationship between nuts and mortality, they conclude the findings combined with previous studies and other data strongly suggest that nuts may reduce chances of contracting a number of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/11/22/new-study-says-nuts-can-extend-life/