If scientists found a way to lower your risk of death from all causes by 20%, that discovery would be immediately broadcast on every major network, newspaper, and online information hub, right? Wrong.
In 2013, researchers form the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that people who made one simple nutritional choice daily dramatically decreased their risk of death. Their findings, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), showed that by a handful of nuts daily, individuals became 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period.
In a Nutshell: An Ounce a Day Keeps Death Away
The researchers analyzed data collected from almost 120,000 people over three decades. The information for the analysis came from the Nurses’ Health Study (conducted with 76,464 women between 1980 and 2010) and the Health Professionals’ follow-up study (which included 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010).
Participants in both studies filled out detailed food questionnaires every two to four years. Both questionnaires specifically asked participants to estimate how often they consumed a serving (one ounce) of nuts.
When analyzing the questionnaires, the researchers used sophisticated statistical tools to subtract the effect of other factors that could have beneficially impacted risk of death. They discovered that a number of factors were linked to high nut intake, including body fat percentage, fruits and vegetable consumption, physical activity level, and avoidance of tobacco and alcohol.
But the researchers were able to neutralize the impact of these linked factors. “In all these analyses,” explained first author Dr. Ying Bao, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, ”the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.”
While Bao and the others acknowledged it would be impossible to account for every single difference between those who regularly ate nuts and those who did not, they said it was “unlikely” any of those differences affected the results.
Why Health “Nuts” Live Longer
The results linked nut consumption to a total reduction in death rate across a multitude of frequently fatal chronic conditions, such as…
- Heart disease
Dr. Charles Fuchs, lead author, noted, “The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29% in deaths from heart disease, the major killer of people in America.” Fuchs and his fellow scientists believe the decline in death rates came from a combination of health benefits.
Nuts appear to promote reductions to key factors linked to the development of chronic diseases, like…
- Oxidative stress
- Adiposity (stored fat)
- Insulin resistance
That last effect, reduction of inflammation, is likely responsible for nuts’ connection to an 11% decrease in your risk of dying from cancer.