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Nuts: Longer Life May Be Had By Eating Them, Study Suggests

Image: Nuts: Longer Life May Be Had By Eating Them, Study Suggests

By David Ogul   |   Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 03:20 PM

A daily diet that includes almonds, walnuts, cashews or other tree nuts can reduce your chances of dying from cancer, heart disease and other ailments, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The federal Food and Drug Administration concluded a decade ago that consuming just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day could reduce the risk of heart disease, but the latest study was the most extensive to date and expanded on earlier findings.

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“Few studies have investigated nut consumption in relation to total mortality, and these investigations have often been limited by small samples, single assessment of diet and other covariates, or inadequate adjustment for important cofounding factors,” wrote the study’s authors.

More than 118,000 volunteers took part in the research that spanned three decades and found that those who included nuts in their diet had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from virtually any cause when compared to those who did not eat nuts.

Nuts, the study noted, “are nutria-dense foods that are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and many other bioactive substances, such as phenolic antioxidants and phytosterols.”

The study also found that nuts did not contribute to weight gain.

There were some important caveats, however. People who ate nuts more regularly were more likely to exercise and more likely to use multivitamin supplements. They also consumed more fruits and vegetables — and drank more alcohol.

And “because nut intake was self-reported, some measurement error is inevitable.”

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Research and Education Foundation nonprofit affiliated with the nut industry. The nut council foundation contributed $150,000 to the study.

“These are excellent investigators but the funding source casts doubt on the credibility of the science,” New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle told the Boston Globe. “I just don’t think food manufacturers should sponsor research about products they sell. It muddies the water.”

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