The Global Burden of Disease Study, the most comprehensive and systematic analysis of the causes of death ever undertaken, involved nearly 500 researchers from more than 300 institutions in 50 countries and examined nearly 100,000 data sources. The study noted which foods, if added to the diet, might save lives. Eating more vegetables could potentially save 1.8 million lives. How about more nuts and seeds? 2.5 million lives. The study calculated that not eating enough nuts and seeds was the third-leading dietary risk factor for death and disability in the world, killing more people than processed meat consumption, and potentially leading to the deaths of 15 times more people than all those who die from overdoses of heroin, crack cocaine, and all other illicit drugs combined.
PREDIMED, one of the largest interventional dietary trials, randomized more than 7,000 men and women at high cardiovascular risk into different diet groups and followed them for years. One group received a free half-pound of nuts every week—the equivalent of eating about an extra half-ounce of nuts daily compared to what they had been consuming before the study even started. Without making major shifts in their diet, just the minor tweak of adding nuts appeared to cut stroke risk in half. Additionally, regardless of which group subjects had been assigned, those eating more nuts each day had a significantly lower risk of dying prematurely overall.
Which nut is healthiest? Normally, my answer is whichever you’ll eat regularly, but walnuts really do seem to take the lead. They have among the highest antioxidant and omega-3 levels, and beat out other nuts in vitro in terms of suppressing cancer cell growth.
One study found that a single serving of Brazil nuts has been shown to lower your cholesterol levels faster than statin drugs and keep them down even a month after that single meal, and by eating three to four handfuls of pistachios a day for three weeks, men in one study reported significant improvement in blood flow through the penis, accompanied by significantly firmer erections.
Nuts are high in calories, but they can be a lifeline without expanding your waistline, as nut consumption has not been found to lead to the expected weight gain. They may also extend your lifeline: Your life span may be increased by two years by eating nuts regularly—one handful (or about a quarter of a cup) five or more days a week. Just that one simple and delicious act alone may extend your life.
In April 2019, videos claiming “proof” that consuming nuts are bad for health were released. View Dr. Fuhrman’s response to these videos here.
Image Credit: Creatas Images / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Nuts
All Videos for Nuts
Are Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger Healthy?
What happens when you compare the trans fats, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels in plant-based versus animal-based burgers?
How to Reverse Heart Failure with Diet
An entire issue of a cardiology journal dedicated to plant-based nutrition explores the role an evidence-based diet can play in the reversal of congestive heart failure.
Which Foods Have the Lowest Carbon Footprint?
How much greenhouse gas does the production of different foods cause measured in miles driven or lightbulb hour equivalents?
Win-Win Dietary Solutions to the Climate Crisis
The EAT-Lancet Commission lays out the best diet for human and planetary health.
Type 1 Diabetes Treatment: A Plant-Based Diet
Is it possible to reverse type 1 diabetes if caught early enough?
What to Eat for Stroke Prevention
More than 90% of stroke risk is attributable to modifiable risk factors.
The Immune System and COVID-19 Treatment
Are there immune-boosting foods we should be eating?
How to Lower Lp(a) with Diet
What to eat and what to avoid to lower the cardiovascular disease risk factor lipoprotein(a).
Cut the Calorie-Rich-And-Processed Foods
We have an uncanny ability to pick out the subtle distinctions in calorie density of foods, but only within the natural range.
What Are the Best Foods?
A review of reviews on the health effects of animal foods versus plant foods.
Foods That Help Headache & Migraine Relief
Plant-based diets are put to the test for treating migraine headaches.
Fasting to Naturally Reverse High Blood Pressure
A whole food plant-based diet can be used to help lock in the benefits of fasting to kickstart the reversal of high blood pressure.