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New study links nut consumption with longer life

A new study funded by the International Tree Nut Council has linked eating nuts with a drop in mortality in both men and women. The study examined over 75,000 women and 40,000 men. Eating nuts, including tree nuts, was inversely related to total mortality rates, the researchers reveal in a press release obtained by EurekAlert. Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. The study took into account other risk factors, and even found that nut consumption led to a drop in deaths from heart disease and cancer.

The scientists also separated out peanuts from tree nuts and found the same benefits. “Compared with those who did not eat nuts, individuals who consumed nuts (serving size of one ounce) seven or more times per week had a 20 percent lower death rate and this association was dose-dependent,” stated lead author, Ying Bao, MD, ScD, in the press release. “Those who consumed more nuts were also leaner, and tended to have a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking less and exercising more.”

Because the study was observational, the scientists cannot definitively link eating nuts with living a longer life, but the results are promising, Forbes explains. It is difficult to determine from an observational study whether there is a cause-effect relationship in place where eating nuts causes a person to live longer. There are a multitude of other factors that could play into that. For example, a person who made eating healthy and exercising a priority might seek out nuts as a good, filling healthy snack.

This is the largest study to date that has examined the link between nut consumption and total mortality. Nuts contain unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamins and minerals, all of which may have a positive impact on overall health. The scientists speculate that nuts may have cardio-protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties which would help in the prevention of serious diseases. The FDA recommends eating 1.5 ounces of nuts a day in their qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease as part of a healthy diet. Nuts are an excellent source of protein and are a filling snack for those who get hungry between meals or who are looking to begin a diet of multiple, smaller meals a day instead of the traditional three-meals-a-day diet.