Eating Nuts Reduces Death Risk

From the Harvard Gazette:

Research Also Shows People Who Eat Nuts Weigh Less

November 21, 2013 | Popular
One Once of Nuts


According to the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than those who didn’t consume nuts, say scientists from the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine,contains further good news: The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.

The report also looked at the protective effect on specific causes of death.

“The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 percent in deaths from heart disease — the major killer of people in America,” said Charles S. Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber, who is the senior author of the report and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“But we also saw a significant reduction — 11 percent — in the risk of dying from cancer,” added Fuchs, who is also affiliated with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s.

Whether any specific type or types of nuts were crucial to the protective effect could not be determined. However, the reduction in mortality was similar both for peanuts (a legume, or ground nut) and for tree nuts — walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, and pine nuts.

Several previous studies had found an association between increasing nut consumption and a lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, and diverticulitis. Higher nut consumption also has been linked to reductions in cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, adiposity, and insulin resistance. Some small studies have linked an increase of nuts in the diet to lower total mortality in specific populations. But no previous research studies had looked in such detail at various levels of nut consumption and their effects on overall mortality in a large population that was followed for more than 30 years.

For the new research, the scientists were able to tap databases from two well-known, ongoing observational studies that collect data on diet and other lifestyle factors and various health outcomes. The Nurses’ Health Study provided data on 76,464 women between 1980 and 2010, and the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study yielded data on 42,498 men from 1986 to 2010. Participants in the studies filled out detailed food questionnaires every two to four years. With each questionnaire, participants were asked to estimate how often they consumed nuts in a serving size of one ounce. A typical small packet of peanuts from a vending machine contains one ounce.

Sophisticated data analysis methods were used to rule out other factors that might have accounted for the mortality benefits. For example, the researchers found that individuals who ate more nuts were leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise, use multivitamin supplements, consume more fruits and vegetables, and drink more alcohol. However, analysis was able to isolate the association between nuts and mortality independently of these other factors.

“In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period,” explained Ying Bao of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, first author of the report. Those who ate nuts less than once a week had a 7 percent reduction in mortality; once a week, 11 percent reduction; two to four times per week, 13 percent reduction; five to six times per week, 15 percent reduction; and seven or more times a week, a 20 percent reduction in death rate.

The authors noted that this large study cannot definitively prove cause and effect; nonetheless, the findings are strongly consistent with “a wealth of existing observational and clinical trial data to support health benefits of nut consumption on many chronic diseases.” In fact, based on previous studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded in 2003 that eating 1½ ounces per day of most nuts “may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

The study was supported by National Institutes of Health and a research grant from the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation.

See Also:

Nuts For Nutrition

Nut Butter Primer



World Pistachio Day – Go Nuts Globally

World Pistachio Day: A Global Chance to Celebrate the Wonderful Green Nut

I’ve got to admit to being a huge fan of the little green nut.  Not so crazy about shelling them, but I do it for love.  Check Pistachio Biscottiout our Pistachio Biscotti.

Did you know the word pistachio comes from a mix of Persian and Latin?   Originating in western Asia, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees with evidence suggesting that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C.

Pistachios were first planted in California in the 1930s and it took nearly 10 years of careful research and breeding before the California pistachio was finally perfected.  Today, California produces more than 550 million pounds of pistachios each year, making it a leading producer of pistachios worldwide.

Pistachios contain only 3-4 calories per nut – a reduced serving of 30 nuts adds up to about 100 caloriesThey also offer vital nutrients, including more than 30 different vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytonutrients, making them a great guilt free snack.

Going Nuts for Pistachios Across the Globe
In China, the pistachio is known as the “happy nut” because it looks like its smiling.
Often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year, pistachios are a symbol of health, happiness and good fortune.  While China leads the world in total pistachio consumption at 200 million pounds per year, Israel has the world’s highest per capita consumption of pistachios as 85 percent of Israelis eat nuts and seeds at least once a month.

In India, pistachios are a major part of the population’s diet and are used in a popular saffron pistachio drink.  During Diwali, the Hindu New Year, and family occasions like weddings, pistachios are gifted as a symbol of love and good wishes.  At one time, pistachios were considered a “hot food” and typically enjoyed during the cold winter months, but now the nut is enjoyed all year round.  In Australia, during the hot summer months, many cafes near the beaches serve creamy Australian yogurt topped with shaved pistachios, as a refreshing post-swim snack.

Pistachios are a premium snack in Mexico, and enjoyed in social settings with friends or while watching soccer games.  To give the snack some spice, many throw the pistachios in a bowl and add hot sauce.   In France, where “snack” is not part of the vocabulary, pistachios are served with an “aperitif,” a beverage served to stimulate the appetite before a late-afternoon meal.

In Korea, “Daeboreum” or “Full Moon” day is celebrated on February 24 of each lunar year.  On this holiday, friends and families gather together to drive evil spirits away with the sounds made by cracking open pistachios.  In Brazil, sharing pistachios can be considered good luck and seen as a way of showing endearment.

Pistachios are enjoyed around the world and in many different languages:  die Pistazie in German, pistaches in French, 开心果in Mandarin Chinese, pista in Hindi, pistache in Spanish, 피스타치오 in Korean, םפיסטוקים in Hebrew, and pistache in Portuguese.

Celebrate the Nutritional Benefits of California Pistachios 
While many eat pistachios purely for their delicious taste and satisfying crunch, the pistachio is also stacked full of nutritional goodness.  Pistachios are a smart snack for healthy eaters, and make for a crave-able healthy habit.  The little nut is mighty in nutrition with fiber, protein, and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  Plus, pistachios offer 49 kernels per 30 grams – that’s more than most other nuts (for the same 30 grams, you only get 14 walnut halves or 18 cashews).  With so many reasons to enjoy pistachios, it’s no wonder the whole world gets together to celebrate them on this special day.

About is the leading online source of information on the health and nutrition benefits of pistachios.  The site is offered in ten languages and includes research updates and educational materials for both consumers and health professionals.  “Like” on Facebook and follow @PistachioHealth on Twitter.  For more information about the health benefits of pistachios, visit:

Superfoods cover image

Play The Is It Healthy Game!

Read Nutrition News

Making Healthy Choices Easier Than You Think

You have Successfully Subscribed!