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Study: Eating nuts reduces heart diseases, cancer risks

New results from two long-running Harvard studies have shown that a handful of nuts a day might help you live a healthier and longer life.

New results from two long-running Harvard studies have shown that a handful of nuts a day might help you live a healthier and longer life.

The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also shows that daily nut-eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases.

“We found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts,” said study co-author, Frank Hu.

Mr Hu is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The researchers pointed out that the composition of nuts – fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – may provide “cardioprotective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.”

Study

According to the report, daily nut-eaters were 20 per cent less likely to have died during the study than those who avoided nuts. It said the findings were gleaned from nearly 120,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study.

The recipients were said to have answered questions about their diets at the beginning of the studies in the 1980s and then every two to four years during 30 years of follow-up.

The researchers classified the participants into six categories that ranged from never eating nuts to eating them seven or more times per week.

The more often people ate nuts, the lower their risk of premature death, the study says.

Heart health

The report found that people who are at risk of a heart attack can cut their risk by eating a healthy diet that includes nuts.

It suggests that eating nuts may lower one’s low-density lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which it claims play a major role in the build-up of deposits called plaques in the arteries.

It added that nuts may also improve the health of the lining of arteries, lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease and reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which most times lead to a heart attack and death.

On cancer

The benefits of nuts for cancer prevention were further reportedly analysed in a separate study published in the National Library of Health.

The report reads in part; “Studies have demonstrated that nuts are valuable sources of vegetable protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, folic acid, phytoestrogens, and fibre.

“Emerging data have indicated that inflammation and oxidative stress have a role in the development of cancer; the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of nuts and their components may contribute to the anticancer activity, as well as confer a cardioprotective effect.”

Other benefits

The report also revealed that frequent nut eaters are also less likely to gain weight, express.co.uk reported.

Mr Hu said nuts contain mostly unsaturated healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

“Nuts are high in protein and fibre, which delays absorption and decreases hunger,” he said.

According to the study, epidemiological data shows that high nut consumption is associated with lower incidence of obesity.

Nuts are able to suppress hunger by absorbing moisture in the gastrointestinal tract, causing a person to feel fuller.

Some researchers hypothesise it’s due to the nuts’ impact on hormones which affect hunger, thus promoting feelings of fullness.

Tips for eating nuts

In a different study, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Kris-Etherton, offered different tips for making nuts part of regular diets.

The professor noted that nut butter could be spread on morning toast instead of butter or cream cheese and by sprinkling chopped nuts on cereal or yogurt, tossing nuts into a salad or stir-fry, topping fruit or crackers with nut butter, and taking nut-encrusted fish or chicken, among others.

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