Nuts a Life Lengthener? Maybe

I don't particularly like them but did you know that nuts can lengthen your life?

According to a study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as reported by, "In the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t consume nuts."

If I'm digging in a box of chocolates and wind up with a cashew, I usually throw it out (or give it to my husband, who'll eat anything).  But I may have to take a second look.  The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, so eat away, calorie-counters!

“The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease – the major killer of people in America,” quotes Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber, who is the senior author of the report. “But we also saw a significant reduction – 11 percent – in the risk of dying from cancer.” Fuchs is also affiliated with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s.

So which nuts are they? The reduction in mortality was similar both for peanuts and for “tree nuts” – walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, cashews, pistachios and pine nuts, notes.

Several previous studies have found an association between increasing nut consumption and a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, and diverticulitis. Higher nut consumption also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance.  But this was the first study of its kind to look in such detail at nut consumption and death rates over 30 years.

“In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period,” quotes Ying Bao, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, first author of the report.

And the more you eat, the longer you live.

Those who ate nuts less than once a week had a seven percent reduction in mortality; once a week, 11 percent reduction; two to four times per week, 13 percent reduction; five to six times per week, 15 percent reduction, and seven or more times a week, a 20 percent reduction in death rate.

While the study didn't show cause and effect (so maybe it wasn't the nuts), it did pretty clearly come down on the side of nut-eating. Maybe I'll go dig through the garbage for that cashew one.


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