A new study finds that eating nuts, particularly walnuts, may give you a longer life.
In a longitudinal study of more than 7,000 people over 50 years old in Spain, the study found that those who ate nuts more than three times a week had reduced risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease compared to non-nut eaters.
People who ate nuts also tended to have a lower body mass index and a smaller waist, and were also less likely to smoke and be more physically active, than those who rarely or never ate nuts. Nut eaters also ate a better diet in general, with more vegetables, fruit, and fish.
Nut eaters had fewer risks of type 2 diabetes and hypertension as well. Overall, nut eaters had a 39 percent lower mortality risk and walnut eaters had a 45 percent lower risk.
People eating more than three servings (one serving equals 28 g) a week of nuts reduced risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 55 percent and cancer by 40 percent. A similar effect was found for walnuts.
"Quite how nuts are able prevent premature mortality is not entirely clear, nor why walnuts should be better for you than other nuts," said study author Jordi Salas-Salvadó, from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili. "Walnuts have particularly high content of alpha-linoleic acid and phytochemicals, especially in their 'skin' both of which, along with fibre and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, may contribute to their healthy effect."
The findings, announced Tuesday, will appear in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine.
In a separate study from last year, researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, US, found that when compared to eight other types of nuts, walnuts were found to have the highest amounts of polyphenols -- compounds thought to reduce heart disease risk by lowering blood cholesterol levels, improving blood flow, and reducing inflammation.