Photo: Food and Drink/REX USA.
Of all the superfoods we've come to regard as our army against disease, the secret to a longer, healthier life may have been sitting right in front of us. According to a new, joint study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, nuts may be the key to warding off cancer, heart disease, and respiratory diseases.
Nuts are rich in protein, high in unsaturated fats, and offer vitamins and antioxidants that can lower the risk of heart disease. But, this study — which used 76,464 women and 42,498 men — focused on the relationship between overall health and nut consumption, including almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts. The study concluded that participants who ate nuts seven or more times a week had a 20-percent lower death rate after four years than those who didn't eat nuts. This isn't the first study to claim the power of nuts, but because it's the biggest study to date, it's much more attention grabbing.
There are a couple of things we should take into consideration, though, when processing this information. For starters, nuts are kind of pricey, so eating them every day is almost a luxury for those on a budget. So, people fortunate enough to afford nuts on a daily basis might also have money for better healthcare and doctors visits. Plus, those who have a steady intake of nuts are generally living healthier lives all around, which may account for the lowered risk for disease. Indeed, the nut eaters in this study tended to be leaner, more physically active, and nonsmokers.
Though the study cannot tell us exactly how many nuts it takes to see a real difference, nor does it confirm a direct cause-effect relationship between nuts and a longer life, the idea is definitely worth looking into. We're just a little worried how loosely we'll begin to interpret this, because most of these life-prolonging gems happen to be key ingredients in all of our favorite cookies. (CNN)