Is it nuts to believe that you can increase your mortality by eating more nuts? In a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists found that daily nut consumers were 20% less likely to die from any cause than those who didn’t consume nuts. Moreover; the regular nut-eaters were also more slender than those who didn’t eat any nuts, debunking the widespread myth that increased nut consumption leads to excessive weight gain.
While there have been previous studies linking nut consumption to lowered risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer, there are few studies that delve into nut consumption and overall mortality. The new research, lead by scientists from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health, was the largest and longest study of it’s kind.
The scientists tapped into the databases of two popular and ongoing observational studies that looked at diet and lifestyle factors. One was the Nurses’ Health Study which gave data on 76, 464 women between 1980 to 2010. The other was the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study which reported data on 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010. This gave the researchers over 30 years of data. Every two to four years, the participants were given a detailed food questionnaire. They were asked to estimate how often they ate a serving of nuts, which was typically 1 ounce of nuts.
Nuts and Mortality
Ying Bao, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and first author of the report, explains that all the analyses showed the more nuts people consumed, the less likely there were to die over the 30-year follow-up period. The more servings of nuts you ate a week, the longer you would live. If you ate nuts less than once a week, you had a 7 percent reduction in mortality. If you ate nuts once a week, you had an 11 percent reduction.
The trend continued in the same manner: two to four times a 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. The authors emphasize that this large study does not definitively prove cause and effect, but it demonstrates the benefits of nut consumption oin relation to several chronic diseases. One benefit of nuts that has been well documented is it’s ability to reduce incidence of heart disease.
Nuts Reduces the Incidence of Heart Disease
The US Food and Drug Administration concluded in 2003 that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts “may reduce the risk of heart disease.” They made this statement based on several studies. Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of Gastrointestinal Cancer Center and senior author of the report, explains that America’s largest killer is heart disease. In the recent study, they found that nuts reduced the deaths from heart disease by 29%. The type of nuts did not differ in the reduction in mortality. Bo
In another study that was published in the BMC Medicine journal, researchers suggest that people who eat nuts more than three times a week reduce their risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease than non-nut eaters. Overall, nut consumers reduced their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 55 percent. People who ate nuts tended to have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and smaller waist. They also smoked less and were more physically active than those who rarely or never ate nuts.
Results from the large NEJM study demonstrated similar results. The regular nut consumers lived a healthier lifestyle. Generally they smoked less, exercised more, regularly took multivitamins, and consumed more fruits and vegetables. While it’s unrealistic to say nuts alone will increase your life expectancy, it’s safe to say nuts should be a regular part of a healthy diet.