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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Dawn Handschuh

Of all the nuts, the healthiest ones are pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts (or filberts), pistachios and almonds

Nuts are nutritional powerhouses. Clinical trials have shown nuts help lower cholesterol and oxidation, improve arterial function, and decrease blood sugar levels.

Nuts Appear to Boost Longevity

Among the findings from a Harvard study that tracked more than 100,000 people for decades was that daily nut eaters experienced fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, regardless of age, weight, alcohol intake or exercise regimen. Just a few servings a week – about the size of two small handfuls – may boost longevity.

Despite widespread assumptions that eating lots of nuts leads to weight gain, recent studies show that frequent nut consumption does not seem to affect body weight, body mass index or waist circumference.

Nuts May Help Combat Some Cancers

Data gleaned from the Harvard Nurse’s Study indicates early nut consumption may prevent breast cancer, and a follow-up study of the daughters of those nurses confirmed the findings: that is, those who ate more fiber and nuts during adolescence, like peanut butter, nuts, beans, lentils, soybeans or corn, had a fraction of the risk for fibrocystic breast disease, which is a marker for increased breast cancer risk. Just two servings of nuts a week during high school was associated with a 36% lower risk compared to those who rarely ate nuts. 

When looking at how nuts may combat other types of cancer, walnuts, pecans and peanuts were shown to cause a dramatic drop in human liver cancer proliferation at very small doses; similar results were found when pitting nuts against human colon cancer cells.


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