An analysis of more than 76,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study and 42,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study has found an inverse link between increased consumption of nuts, including tree nuts, with total mortality rates and deaths due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals.
"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% lower death rate and this association was dose-dependent," stated lead author, Ying Bao, MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. "Those who consumed more nuts were also leaner, and tended to have a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking less and exercising more," added Dr. Bao.
This is the largest study to date to examine the relation between nut consumption and total mortality, and the results are consistent with previous studies, according to senior author, Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, from the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA. "The findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity," reported Dr. Fuchs.
Nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamins (i.e., vitamin E, folate and niacin) minerals (i.e., magnesium, calcium and potassium) and phytochemicals—all of which may offer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. "With current nut consumption well below the recommended 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (in the FDA qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease) we need to continue to encourage people to have a handful of nuts every day," recommends Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF).