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The largest analysis of risk factors for death and disease in history, the Global Burden of Disease Study, calculated that not eating enough nuts and seeds was the third-leading dietary risk factor for death and disability in the world.

Major studies have shown that people who eat nuts appear to suffer fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease, and our life span may be increased by an extra two years by eating nuts regularly—one handful (or about a quarter of a cup) five or more days a week.

PREDIMED, one of the largest interventional dietary trials ever performed, followed more than seven thousand men and women at high cardiovascular risk randomized into different diet groups. One group received a free half pound of nuts every week for four consecutive years. Compared with other groups, the added-nuts group appeared to cut their stroke risk in half. And, regardless of which group participants were assigned to, those eating more nuts each day had a significantly lower risk of dying prematurely overall.

In my Daily Dozen, recommend a daily serving of either ¼ cup nuts or seeds, or 2 tablespoons of nut or seed butter.

Which nut is healthiest? Walnuts really seem to take the lead. They have among the highest antioxidant and omega-3 levels, and they beat out other nuts in vitro in suppressing cancer cell growth. And, of all the nuts studied in PREDIMED, the researchers found the greatest benefits associated with walnuts, particularly for preventing cancer deaths.

People who ate more than three servings of walnuts per week appeared to cut their risk of dying from cancer in half. A review of the scientific literature concluded that “the far-reaching positive effects of a plant-based diet that includes walnuts may be the most critical message for the public.”

All Videos for Walnuts

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