This week I’m going to give a lecture at the annual conference of the Academy for Anti-Aging in Las Vegas. They asked me to give a talk months ago, and hey, a weekend in Vegas sounded great. I will report on the conference and my talk next week. When I power-pointed my talk, I included some general dietary recommendations and one was “Eat your nuts”. So when I saw the article in the November 21 issue of the The New England Journal of Medicine titled “Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality” I looked for new data to support this recommendation. And it was there…
The authors examined the association between nut consumption and subsequent mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses Health Study (all woman) which was conducted between 1980 and 2010 as well as 42,498 men in the Health Professional Follow-up Study (all men) that went on between 1986 and 2010. (In other words, 30 years of study on a huge number of women and men.)
They found that for those who ate nuts as compared to those who did not there was a significant decrease in mortality during the 30 years of follow up. And this decrease in death rate was directly correlated with the number of times a week they ate nuts. Their risk of death was decreased by 7% with nut consumption once a week, 13% for 2 to 4 times a week, 15% for 5 to 6 times a week and a whopping 20% for those who ate nuts seven or more times a week. This inverse association was observed for most major causes of death, including heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. The results were similar for all tree nuts and peanuts. Not only that, the studies showed that the concern that frequent nut consumption can result in weight gain does not appear to be valid. In these two large studies, increased nut intake was associated with less weight gain and a decreased risk of obesity. So, how many nuts you should eat? In the study they considered a serving of nuts to be 28 grams or 1 ounce.
Why are nuts so healthy so healthy? They contain unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins (folate, niacin and vitamin E), minerals (potassium, calcium and magnesium) as well as phytochemicals (flavonoids). These nutrients may have significant heart protective, cancer protective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Bottom line: I guess the advice to eat your nuts is appropriate. I’m off to eat eight almonds. (Yes, they are the salty kind.)