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Nuts for Longevity

A large observational study has shown that 119,000 men and women who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t consume nuts, according to scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Their report, published in
the November 21, 2013, edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, has more good news. Regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate common fears about nuts being high in fat and tied to weight gain.

The report also looked at
the protective effect on specific causes of death, said a Dana-Farber press release.

“The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease—the major killer of people in America,” said Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center and
senior author of the report. “But we also saw a significant reduction—11%—in the risk of dying from cancer,” added Fuchs, who is affiliated with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s as well.

Scientists were not able to pinpoint any specific type or types of nuts crucial to the protective effect. The reduction in mortality was similar both for peanuts and for “tree nuts” such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios and pine nuts.

The study was supported
by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. The authors stated that neither organization influenced the design, data collection or interpretation of the study results.

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