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Eating More Nuts Improves Mortality and Reduces Cancer Risk

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Eating More Nuts Improves Mortality and Reduces Cancer Risk

Eating More Nuts Improves Mortality and Reduces Cancer Risk
December 02
13:03 2013

In the largest study of its kind, researchers have found that eating nuts, including almonds, was associated with a 20% reduction in total mortality, independent of other predictors for death. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, this new epidemiological study examined the relationship between consumption of nuts and mortality, finding that eating more servings of nuts each week was associated with lower causes of death due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

Participants were part of either the Nurses’ Health Study, a longitudinal study assessing various health aspects of female registered nurses, or the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a similar study of all-male health professionals. The sample size was 118,962 (76,464 women and 42,498 men). Compared with those who did not eat nuts, individuals who consumed nuts (serving size of 30 grams) seven or more times per week had a 20% lower death rate from all causes. This association was dose-dependent, which means the more nuts the participants ate, their total mortality rate decreased accordingly.

Almonds, along with other tree nuts reviewed in the research, provide a powerful nutrient package including protein, fibre, important vitamins and minerals. Moreover, gram for gram, almonds are higher in protein, fibre, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin than any other tree nut.

This study suggests that eating nuts, such as almonds, daily may provide health benefits and be part of a dietary and lifestyle pattern that supports long-term health.

“The findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity,” says Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, and one of the study’s authors.

The study also suggested that participants who consumed more nuts were also leaner, and tended to have a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking less and exercising more. This adds to the strong body of evidence suggesting that people who regularly eat almonds have healthier lifestyles.

The researchers followed prospectively the same group of women within the Nurses’ Health Study and identified 466 subjects (with no previous history of cancer). After adjusting for age/height and potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer (ie smoking, physical activity and energy intake), the researchers determined that women who consumed one 30-gram serving of nuts two or more times per week had a significantly reduced risk of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not eat nuts regularly. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause for cancer-related death in the UK [iii], yet very few modifiable risk factors have been identified.

“This reduction in risk was independent of established or suspected risk factors for pancreatic cancer including age, height, obesity, physical activity, smoking, diabetes and dietary factors,” states lead author,Ying Bao,MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. According to the study, the impetus for examining the association between nut consumption and pancreatic cancer is because consuming more nuts, like almonds, has been associated with reduced risk of diabetes, which is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.

Although there has been a misconception that frequent nut consumption may result in weight gain and thereby increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, the opposite appears to be true. The study found that subjects with more frequent nut consumption were leaner. “In our cohort, women who consumed the most nuts tended to weigh less,” says Dr Bao.

Lucy Jones, Specialistt Dietitian, comments: “I regularly encourage snacking on a handful of almonds daily. The body of research on almond health benefits is impressive, from cardiovascular health, to diabetes control to helping maintain a healthy weight. These two additional groundbreaking studies further demonstrate how making the simple change of eating a handful of delicious almonds daily can help us live longer, healthier lives.”

To learn more about incorporating almonds into a healthy eating plan, please visit Almonds.co.uk.

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