For Floridians who are not allergic to nuts, but thought they were too fattening to eat everyday - good news: a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that daily nut consumption may reduce the risk of dying from major chronic diseases.
In 2003, based on various observational studies and clinical trials suggesting reduction in the risk of heart disease, the FDA recommended eating about 1.5 ounces of most nuts as part of a low fat diet.
In this new report, dietary data from a 30 year prospective studies of over 120,000 nurses in 11 US states (Nurses’ Health Study- NHS) and a 24 year prospective study over 50,000 male health professionals from all 50 states (Health Professionals Follow-up Study -HPFS) was analyzed. The researchers excluded anyone with a history of cancer, heart disease or stroke at the start of the study.
What was remarkable, was that the authors found a consistently significant relationship between daily peanut or tree nut consumption and reduced death rates from all major causes of death in both groups (cancer, heart and respiratory disease). While the daily consumers showed as much as a 20 percent reduced mortality, even those who only ate nuts a few times a week fared better than those who never ate nuts.
And for anyone concerned about weight gain from eating nuts, this group actually had less weight gain, reduced wait circumferences and decreased risk of obesity.
The fact that nuts are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins (e.g. folate, vitamin E, niacin), minerals (e.g. potassium, calcium, and magnesium), and phytochemicals (e.g.carotenoids, flavenoids, and phytosterols), may explain how they act as antioxidant, cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, cardioprotective anti-inflammatory agents.
Clearly more research is required to show cause and effect. In the meantime, though, for those who are not allergic to nuts, this report adds to the evidence that daily consumption of a handful of nuts may be very good for your overall health.