Eating nuts reduces death

by | Nov 22, 2013 | News

By Jade Leung

In today’s nuttiest news, a study has shown that those who nibble on a handful of nuts daily have a 20 per cent less chance of dying from any cause.

Researchers have previously said nuts provide a buffer against heart diseases (reducing 29 per cent of deaths), various cancers (11 per cent), type 2 diabetes, obesity and many other conditions.

The authors of the study did not ascribe the health benefits to any particular nut, but said the effects were apparent in all types, ranging from peanuts to any tree nuts (such as hazelnuts and almonds).

The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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According to the study, those people were also more likely to be slender compared to their non-nutty counterparts.

Nutritionist Jennifer Sygo said that while this may initially be counterintuitive – as nuts are high in calories – they actually contain a lot of healthy fats.

“Each nut has a slightly different profile, but depending on the nut, you might get things like monounsaturated fats which are concentrated in almonds – those have been linked with heart health,” Sygo told Humber News.

“Or you might have things like omega-three fatty acids which you can get through walnuts. Even more recently, there have been suggestions that macadamia nuts contain something called omega-seven fatty acids.”

She said these fats, depending on the nuts, all play a role in positive heart health.

“Another element is their protein content which contributes to feelings of fullness or satiety,” said Sygo. She explains nuts increase cholecystokinin, a hormone that suppresses our appetite.

Sygo said, “Despite our impression that nuts are very high in calorie, because they’re hard on the body to digest, you can actually end up not absorbing all the calories.”

Charles Fuchs, the senior author of the study, told Humber News, “In an effort to really understand the sum benefits, we wanted to look at mortality in a much larger cohort. It was a study of 118,000 people followed over 30 years for whom we got diet and lifestyle data,”

“One thing we suspect is that nuts may affect metabolic pathways,” said Fuchs.

In addition to it’s favourable impact on metabolism, Fuchs said there’s been much speculation that nuts provides anti-inflammatory benefits which may explain their role in reducing heart diseases and cancer.

“I’m a cancer physician, I think beyond the work I do in cancer therapy, it’s really been important for me to understand prevention. I think we owe that to our patients,” said Fuchs, who works at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.