The next time you’re hungry for a snack, you may want to grab a handful of nuts, as new research suggests they lower the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Specifically, the research suggests at least 20 grams per day of nuts can “cut people's risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 30 percent, their risk of cancer by 15 percent, and their risk of premature death by 22 percent.”
Researchers said eating the nuts also reduced the risk of dying from respiratory disease “by about a half’ as well as reducing the risk of diabetes by nearly 40 percent, although they added there is less data to support the effect of consuming nuts on those ailments.
Writing in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers from Imperial College London and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analyzed 29 previous studies from around the world on the health benefits of nuts.
"In nutritional studies, so far much of the research has been on the big killers such as heart diseases, stroke and cancer, but now we're starting to see data for other diseases, said study co-author Dagfinn Aune from the School of Public Health at Imperial.
"We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication that there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes. It's quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food," he added.
Researchers say the study “included all kinds of tree nuts” like hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts, which are legumes.
"Nuts and peanuts are high in fiber, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fats - nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk and which can reduce cholesterol levels,” said Aune. "Some nuts, particularly walnuts and pecan nuts, are also high in antioxidants, which can fight oxidative stress and possibly reduce cancer risk. Even though nuts are quite high in fat, they are also high in fiber and protein, and there is some evidence that suggests nuts might actually reduce your risk of obesity over time."
The study also found that more than 20 grams of nut consumption a day did not increase the health benefits.