Are nuts the secret to a long life?

Five ways to mindful eating

A recent study found that a healthy intake of nuts could reduce your risk of dying from all causes.

While some people try to avoid nuts because of their calorific content, recent research offers a major health benefit of nuts that could outweigh any pitfalls – they could make you live longer.

Research published in the New England Journal has added to evidence that’s been building over 20 years proving the health benefits of nuts. The latest study followed 118,962 people for almost 30 years. During this time 27,429 people died. It was found that those who regularly ate nuts were more likely to live longer – even after other risk factors were considered.

Eating nuts seven times a week was seen to reduce the risk of dying from all causes by an incredible 20% during the study. For those who only ate nuts once a week, this reduction was 7%.

Going into detail the study showed that eating nuts five times a week resulted in a 29% drop in risk of dying from heart disease and an 11% drop in risk of dying from cancer. Those who ate nuts in the study were found to lead healthier lives and were less likely to smoke or be overweight.

While nuts may contain a lot of calories, they are nutrient rich foods containing unsaturated fatty acids (which have been linked to lowering cholesterol), protein, fibre and essential micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, folic acid and potassium. The trap many people fall into when it comes to snacking on nuts is choosing those covered in salt, chocolate or honey – making them far less healthy.

While the study in question did take into account the participant’s lifestyle, it cannot prove cause and effect as other external factors may have influenced results. This being said, it is undeniable that snacking on nuts is anything but good for us, so next time you get a mid-morning hunger pang try a handful of these…

Nuts to nibble:

  • Walnut (a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Almond (high in protein, this nut has been linked to weight loss).
  • Cashew (add these to stir-fries or salads for a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat).
  • Pistachio (a great source of B-vitamins and relatively low in calories).
  • Hazelnut (contains the plant sterol beta-sitosterol, which helps to lower cholesterol).
  • Pecan (rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamin E).

Find out more about eating a healthy diet on our dedicated page.

View and comment on the original Guardian article.

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Written by Katherine

Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
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