The data was taken from the Nurses’ Health Study (1980-2010) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2010) which followed 76,464 women and 42,498 men over 25 to 30 years making it the largest study of its kind. Total mortality and cause-specific mortality was correlated with nut consumption. They found that those who ate more nuts had:
• 11% reduction in cancer deaths (during the study period)
• 29% reduction in deaths from heart disease
• 20% reduction in deaths from any cause
Those who ate nuts more frequently generally had a healthier lifestyle – they were also leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise, take multi-vitamins, and to eat more fruits and vegetables. Curiously they also drank more alcohol (beer and peanuts watching TV sports?). The study was designed to isolate the effect of nut consumption from these other factors. Both peanuts and tree nuts provided similar reductions in mortality.
The more frequently that nuts were consumed, the lower the risk of death. The reduction in mortality varied from 7% for once a week through to 20% for once a day. While this study does not prove cause and effect, it is (to quote the authors)
“consistent with a wealth of existing observational and clinical-trial data in supporting the health benefits of nut consumption for many chronic diseases. In addition, nutrients in nuts, such as unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins (e.g., folate, niacin, and vitamin E), minerals (e.g., potassium, calcium, and magnesium), and phytochemicals (e.g., carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytosterols), may confer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.” [NEJM 21 Nov 2013].
See my column #43 21 Dec 2009 for more on “nut-rition”.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.