The holidays always include snacks for family and friends and now you can be good to them without cooking. A new study from November, 2013 in The New England Journal of Medicine, come from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which together have followed nearly 119,000 women and men from 1980 - 2010. Both studies recorded what the participants ate and analyzed their diets in relation to the causes of death among the 27,429 people who died since the studies began.
The more often nuts ( pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews,
hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts, and walnuts) were
consumed, the less likely participants were to die of cancer, heart
disease, and respiratory disease, and not because nut eaters
succumbed to other diseases. Their death rate from any cause was
lower. Those who ate nuts seven or more times a week were 20 percent
less likely to die. Among those who consumed nuts less often than
once a week, the death rate was still 11 percent lower than for
those who did not eat them.
Of course, moderation is key because an ounce of nuts has 160 to 200
calories. However, findings revealed the more often people ate nuts,
the leaner they tended to be. In a Mediterranean study that tracked
the effect of nut consumption on weight gain over the course of 28
months, frequent nut consumers gained less weight than those who
never ate nuts, and were 43 percent less likely to become overweight
or obese. One reason it found may be the fat, fiber, and protein in
nuts suppresses hunger between meals. Every study has indicated that
nuts make a contribution to health and longevity, even after taking
other factors into account.
Nuts provide rich sources of unsaturated fat and also contain
protein, fiber, plant sterols that can lower cholesterol, and
micronutrients copper and magnesium. Nuts have less
cholesterol-raising saturated fat than olive oil. On average, 62
percent of the fat in nuts is monounsaturated, the kind that
supports healthy levels of protective HDL cholesterol and does not
raise blood levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. Nuts contain omega-3
fatty acids that can lower triglycerides and blood pressure, slow
the buildup of arterial plaque, and prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
Walnuts contain rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid, some of which
is converted to heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are
good sources of vitamin E. Peanuts and pistachios are rich in
The nurses’ study also linked tree nuts to a reduced risk of
pancreatic cancer. A Taiwanese study of about 24,000 people found a
58 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer among women who ate
peanuts, although a similar effect was not found among men. The
nurses’ study and a study of 64,000 women in Shanghai found strong
evidence that frequent consumption of tree nuts, peanuts, and peanut
butter reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
As with all studies, especially many with exaggerated claims, no
food is a panacea and eating nuts will not heal the sick or raise
the dead. However, there seems to be enough evidence that adding a
moderate amount of nuts to your diet is better for you than not.