Transcript: Nuts May Help Prevent Death
We’ve known increased nut consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of major chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. But do those who eat nuts actually live longer lives? Clinical trials have shown nuts help lower cholesterol and oxidation, and improve our arterial function, and blood sugar levels, but does this all translate into greater longevity? Researchers at Harvard examined the association between nut consumption and subsequent mortality of over a hundred thousand people followed for decades. In that time tens of thousands died, but those that ate nuts every day lived significantly longer. Daily nut consumers had fewer cancer deaths, heart disease deaths, and fewer deaths from respiratory disease. And this was after controlling other lifestyle factors. So nut consumers lived significantly longer whether they were older or younger, fat or skinny, whether they exercised more or smoked, drank or ate other foods that may affect mortality.
But nuts are so filled with fat, so there may be a concern that frequent nut consumption can result in weight gain. However, that’s not what they found, and in fact other studies have associated nut consumption with a slimmer waist, less weight gain, and lower risk of obesity. If you look at all the studies put together, it’s pretty much a wash. Diets enriched with nuts do not seem to affect body weight, body mass index, or waist circumference much at all. Just for a visual, this is one of the most recent such studies, in which study subjects were told to add either zero, 70, or 120 pistachios to their daily diet as an afternoon snack every day for three months, and the results looked like this, you can’t even tell which line is which, whether they were eating no nuts or over a 100 day. Hence, it appears, the incorporation of nuts, around 1 to 2 small handfuls a day, would be advisable to ensure various health benefits without the risk of body weight gain, and what was nice about this review is that there were no apparent ties to the nut industry.
How nuts do we have to go? Not much. Just a few servings a week may boost our lifespan and lower cancer rates, but, it appears, we have to keep it up. In the PREDIMED study when long-time nut eaters were told to cut down on eating nuts or choose extra virgin olive oil, within five years they apparently lost much of their longevity benefit. Only the group that started out eating nuts and continued to eat at least the same amount of nuts had the significant survival advantage.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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