Want to live longer: Try some nuts

Harold Mandel's picture
Nuts mixed with a delicious salad

Nuts are more than delicious. They can also help us live longer. Find out how eating nuts can contribute to health and a long life.

Advertisement

In the eternal search for a longer life people are often trying to find some type of magical nutritional formula. Yet, research has consistently upheld that simply eating healthy foods may help avoid many diseases and prolong life. And so we see more and more people eating a lot of fish, chicken, vegetables and fruit and less red meat and junk food. Recent research says that adding some delicious nuts to your diet may also prolong your life.

Nuts are very nutritious foods, as covered in a research article in the New England Journal of Medicine. There is a large supply of unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many other bioactive substances, in nuts. Among the bioactive substances there is a good supply of phenolic antioxidants and phytosterols in nuts.

Research has shown that nuts have positive effects on blood cholesterol and therefore on coronary heart disease. As far back as 2003 the Food and Drug Administration stated that for most nuts, consumption of just 1.5 oz per day, with a low-fat diet, may lower the risk of heart disease.

Research has also shown that eating nuts is associated with a lowering of many mediators of chronic diseases, such as:

1: Oxidative stress

2: Inflammation

3: Visceral adiposity

4: Hyperglycemia

5: Insulin resistance

6: Endothelial dysfunction

Studies have also found an association between eating nuts and lower risks of many diseases, including:

1: Type 2 diabetes mellitus

2: Metabolic syndrome

3: Colon cancer

4: Hypertension

5: Gallstone disease

6: Diverticulitis

7: Death from inflammatory diseases

The evidence is compelling that eating nuts may reduce obesity, blood pressure and blood sugar, according to an article by EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell.

Researchers were so impressed with these findings they decided to investigate the association between nut consumption and mortality. This study revealed that people who ate more nuts shared many positive characteristics, including being:

Advertisement

1: Thinner

2: Less likely to smoke

3: More likely to exercise

4: More likely to use multivitamin supplements

5: More likely to consume more fruits and vegetables

6: More likely to drink more alcohol

There is evidence that eating nuts may also boost your mood, as reported upon by EmaxHealth reporter Denise Reynolds RD.

The research shows a significant inverse association exists between the frequency of nut consumption and total mortality in both women and men. Nut consumption was also found to be inversely associated with the risk of most of the primary causes of death among both women and men. In particular there were significant inverse associations observed for deaths due to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.

Participants in the study who ate nuts seven or more times a week demonstrated a 20 percent lower death rate. Inverse associations were consistent for most primary causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases. The results were similar for peanuts and tree nuts. Although there are at times concerns eating nuts too often may be associated with weight gain, in this study increased nut consumption was associated with less weight gain.

Although it is not possible to conclude from this study that the association between nut consumption and mortality reflects cause and effect, the results support the consideration that nut consumption has health benefits when dealing with many chronic diseases. It is significant that the Mediterranean diet has been found to be protective against cardiovascular disease, and one aspect of this diet is nuts.

Regular nut eaters were found to be less likely to die of cancer or heart disease, and in fact, were not as likely to die from any cause, during a 30-year Harvard study, according to a review of this research in Bioscience Technology. Nuts have had a reputation as being a heart healthy food for a long time.

This study has been the largest to date dealing with whether eating nuts affects mortality. The Harvard researchers followed 119,000 men and women and observed that those who ate nuts just about every day were 20 percent less likely to die during the study period than those participants who never ate nuts.

It was found that the risk of death from heart disease fell 29 percent and the risk of death from cancer fell 11 percent among participants who ate nuts seven or more times a week, in comparison with people who never ate nuts. These benefits were observed with the following kinds of nuts:

1: Peanuts

2: Pistachios

3: Almonds

4: Walnuts

5: Other tree nuts

It was also found that people who ate nuts stayed thinner. Dr. Ying Bao, who led the study, said it is generally thought that if you consume more nuts you're likely to get fat. However, the results of this study showed nut eaters were thinner. It is believed the unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients found in nuts are responsible for their health benefits. Because it is hard to single out any one food which is responsible for the results in this study, cause and effect between eating nuts and living longer can not be proven. However, a connection can be suggested.

Consider that nuts are often eaten with salads and some of the health benefits when eaten this way may come from the leafy greens. There is also the possibility that eating nuts may be replace eating something which is not as healthy, such as potato chips. So one reason for the health benefits observed may be due to eating less of the unhealthy food.

The Food and Drug Administration stated in 2003 that just a fistful of nuts a day consumed as part of a low-fat diet may significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week are generally recommended. However, you should not eat too many nuts due to the increased caloric consumption if you do so. Overall, study participants who consumed
more nuts, within a reasonable amount, were healthier. Nut eaters enjoy weighing less and exercising more often. They are also less likely to smoke.

It has been my observation that people who are natural health enthusiasts generally include nuts as part of their diet. These positive thinking health minded people also generally appear to be really into outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, bike riding and swimming. They also seem to avoid smoking and eating a lot of junk food. I find these kind of people to generally share an almost addicting high spirited attitude about leading healthy lifestyles and eating nutritious food. In view of the compelling evidence which suggests nuts are good for your health, I suggest the consumption of mixed nuts for these health enthusiasts and others who are interested in making a commitment to being healthy and living a long life.

Advertisement