Eating a handful of nuts each day may prolong your life. In a study from Spain, 7,216 men and women ages 55-80 were followed for almost five years. Those taking three servings of nuts per week had a 39 percent lower death rate than those who did not eat nuts, a 55 percent lower risk of heart attack deaths, and a 40 percent lower risk of death from cancer. These results agree with the other major studies on nuts and health: the Adventist Health Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study and the Nurses’ Health Study.
Characteristics of Nut Eaters
Those who ate nuts frequently were far less fat, had smaller bellies, were less likely to smoke, were more likely to exercise, were far less likely to be diabetic and were less likely to take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Also, nut eaters ate more vegetables, fruit and fish.
How Eating Nuts May Prolong Life
Eating nuts regularly is associated with reduced heart attack risk factors such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Many people think they should avoid nuts because of their high fat content, but most of the fat in nuts comes from the good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. You will get the most health benefit from nuts if you eat them as a substitute for the saturated fats in meats and dairy products.
Nuts are high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and many bioactive compounds. All tree nuts are healthful: almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts and so forth. Walnuts are a good source of the healthful omega-3 fatty acids. Beans and other legumes such as peanuts are also healthful. Just don’t coat them with sugar or chocolate.
Gabe Mirkin, M.D., has been a practicing physician for over 50 years. He is board-certified in sports medicine, allergy and immunology, pediatrics, and pediatric immunology. This article was originally published on DrMirkin.com. Subscribe to his free weekly Fitness & Health newsletter.