Eating nuts reduce death at 30's limits heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, reduces cholesterol

Eating nuts reduces death risks

7:38 AM, 30th November 2013
Research on nuts prevent early deaths in 30's
Eating nuts reduces death risks

CAMBRIDGE, US: According to a latest study, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 per cent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts, say scientists from the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health. The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.

“The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 per cent in deaths from heart disease - the major killer of people in America,” said Charles S Fuchs, Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Centre at Dana-Farber and Professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School.

“But we also saw a significant reduction - 11 per cent - in the risk of dying from cancer,” added Fuchs, who is also affiliated with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s.

Whether any specific type or types of nuts were crucial to the protective effect could not be determined. However, the reduction in mortality was similar both for peanuts (a legume, or ground nut) and for tree nuts - walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and pine nuts.

Several previous studies had found an association between increasing nut consumption and a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, and diverticulitis. Higher nut consumption also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, adiposity, and insulin resistance. Some small studies have linked an increase of nuts in the diet to lower total mortality in specific populations. But no previous research studies had looked in such detail at various levels of nut consumption and their effects on overall mortality in a large population that was followed for more than 30 years.

For the new research, the scientists were able to tap databases from two well-known, ongoing observational studies that collect data on diet and other lifestyle factors and various health outcomes.

Sophisticated data analysis methods were used to rule out other factors that might have accounted for the mortality benefits. For example, the researchers found that individuals who ate more nuts were leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise, use multivitamin supplements, consume more fruits and vegetables, and drink more alcohol. However, analysis was able to isolate the association between nuts and mortality independently of these other factors.

“In all these analysis, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period. Those who ate nuts less than once a week had a 7 per cent reduction in mortality; once a week, 11 per cent reduction; two to four times per week, 13 per cent reduction; five to six times per week, 15 per cent reduction; and seven or more times a week, a 20 per cent reduction in death rate,” explained Ying Bao, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

 

© Harvard University News

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