LATELY EVERYWHERE I go, I am offered nuts in bowls, bags and oversized plastic containers. If I demur, I’m told I should eat them.
A Harvard study of 119,000 men and women found that, over the study period of 30 years, those who ate nuts almost every day, compared to those who never ate nuts were:
*20 percent less likely to die
*29 percent less likely to die from heart disease
*11 percent less likely to die of cancer
Study participants who “often ate nuts” weighed less, exercised more and were less likely to smoke than nut-abstainers, but even accounting for these variables, nuts provided strong health benefits.
Those who ate nuts less often than once a week still reduced their risk of death by 7 percent; those who ate nuts once a week, by 11 percent; and two to four times a week, by 13 percent. The benefits occurred with peanuts as well as with tree nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
Nuts contain “good” unsaturated fats, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids – which have been touted to help with everything from depression to the effects of aging on the brain. During times of acute stress, walnuts appear to protect the heart, and almonds boost immune functioning. Walnuts may also help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. And pistachios may provide protection from lung cancer.