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A handful of nuts a day (1)

Two long-running Harvard studies showed that people who ate nuts every day lived longer and healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts. The report showed that eating nuts seven or more times per week (that’s a healthy handful daily) had a 20% less chance of dying during the study period than those who didn’t eat nuts.

The findings were gleaned from nearly 120,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physician’s Health Study. All 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. This resulted in the largest study ever done on nuts and risk of early death.

The findings support those of earlier nut research studies that eating nuts lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowers blood pressure. Nuts consumption helps boost a process called reverse cholesterol transport by which HDL particles in the blood sweep away fatty plaque from clogged arteries.

The Harvard researchers pointed out that the composition of nuts – fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – may provide “cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, antiflammatory, and antioxidant properties.”

You might think eating nuts might make you fat since they are high in fat, but frequent eaters were less likely to gain weight in this and other studies. “Nuts are high in protein and fiber, which delays absorption and decreases hunger,” said Dr. Hu, this study’s co-author, adding that nuts contain mostly unsaturated healthy fats.

Dr. Stampfer, professor of nutrition and epidemiology, says “because this study is observational, we can’t truly be certain that it is nuts that are doing the heart-healthy deed. But compared with other “health foods,” nuts have some pretty compelling evidence behind them. Eating a daily handful of nuts is one strategy to promote good health.”

(To be continued) (Floro Mercene)

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