Good news this week for nut fans! A new study found a strong link between regular nut consumption and lower risk of death. Over three decades participants who ate a 1-ounce serving of nuts every day had a 20% lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those who did not nosh on this healthy snack. In addition to decreased death rates, nut eaters were 25% less likely to die from heart disease, 10% less likely to die from cancer, and 20% less likely to die from diabetes or lung disease.
We have long known that nuts are chock-full of healthy unsaturated fats, fiber and protein. In fact, in 2003 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day for their heart-protective benefits. Nuts have also been linked to weight control.
My favorite part of this new finding is that the health benefits apply to ALL nuts. Study participants consumed an array of nuts including cashews, almonds, walnuts, and more. So no matter what your nut of choice is, you can reap the benefits. Many clients will ask “Which is healthier, walnuts or pecans?”, or my least favorite “Is it true that almonds are lower in carbs than other nuts?” No need to split hairs- the most important thing is to choose nuts you enjoy so you will actually eat them! Also, it’s best to avoid nuts and nut mixes drenched in sugar and/or sodium.
Serving size is a little different for each variety, but one serving is roughly ¼ cup. Nuts are definitely nutrient dense, but they are also calorie-dense, meaning it is easy to over-do it. Try pre-portioning them into snack bags for perfect portable snacks.
Here’s some inspiration to put this nutty news into action now…
In Larabar form (digging this seasonal flavor right now- HIGHLY recommend!)
Walnuts on my cereal
Pistachios paired with a piece of fruit
Homemade candied almonds (add a dash of cayenne for an unexpected kick!)
A variety mixed into fiber-rich trail mix
Caution when interpreting this good news- it is not realistic to think you can simply add a serving of nuts to a couch potato fast-food lifestyle and expect to add years to your life. Researchers did their best to control for various lifestyle factors, but it is not likely that nuts single-handedly improved peoples’ health. It is possible that nut eaters have healthier overall habits than non-nut eaters.
The bottom line: regular nut consumption should be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet active lifestyle. Not sure how to make that happen? That’s what a registered dietitian nutritionist is for :)