Good to know: There are 53 types of nuts in the world. Even better: The more you eat them, the more likely you’ll live longer.
That’s according to a study published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine that found an inverse association with the frequency of nut consumption and mortality over the course of the study. In fact, those who ate nuts seven or more times per week lowered their death rate by 20 percent.
The study followed 76,464 women and 42,498 men for 30 years, updating each participant’s diet and lifestyle variables whenever possible. To adjust for potential confounders, researchers excluded participants with a history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or stroke, as well as those who had ever smoked or who had a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 or more than 40.
Results showed that those who reported eating nuts more frequently were leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise, take multivitamins, and eat fruits and vegetables. Nut consumers were also less likely to gain weight.
The most surprising finding, however, was the significant inverse association observed between nut consumption and mortality. In addition to the 20 percent lower death rate among nut consumers, researchers noted inverse associations for most major causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.
Although researchers noted that further study is needed to determine an exact cause-and-effect relationship, they noted that the findings join a “wealth” of data that support the health benefits of nuts for various chronic diseases. Past research has determined that thanks to nuts’ nutritional qualities—healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins—consumption is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, plus antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.