Leading a long and healthy life largely hinges on your ability to avoid chronic complications that shorten your lifespan. One of the most important proactive measures you can take is to maintain a healthy weight because obesity can lead to life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease. A healthy diet also reduces the amount of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Can a simple snack item help to reduce cancer and heart disease risk boosting your longevity?
According to findings from two long-running Harvard studies, getting a daily dose of nuts can help to extend a person’s lifespan.
“We found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts,” said study co-author Dr Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The report – published in the New England Journal of Medicine – showed that daily nut-eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
Overall, the daily nut-eaters were 20 percent less likely to have died during the course of the study than those who avoided nuts.
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The Harvard researchers also pointed out that the composition of nuts – fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – may provide “cardioprotective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties”.
As an added health bonus, frequent nut eaters were less likely to gain weight in this and other studies.
“Nuts are high in protein and fibre, which delays absorption and decreases hunger,” said Dr Hu, adding that nuts contain mostly unsaturated healthy fats.
Research has found that people who are at risk of a heart attack can cut their risk by eating a healthy diet that includes nuts.
Research suggests that eating nuts may:
Lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which play a major role in the build-up of deposits called plaques in your arteries
Improve the health of the lining of your arteries
Lower levels of inflammation linked to heart disease
Reduce the risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack and death
As a result, nuts can improve your heart health and lower your risk of dying early from heart disease and other causes.
Reduce cancer risk
In a study published in the National Library of Health, the benefits of nuts for cancer prevention were further analysed.
Nuts are much more than a nice addition to your cheese platter, began the study.
It continued: “Studies have demonstrated that nuts are a valuable source of vegetable protein, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, folic acid, phytoestrogens, and fibre.
“Emerging data have indicated that inflammation and oxidative stress have a role in the development of cancer; it is possible that the antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of nuts and their components may contribute to anticancer activity, as well as confer a cardioprotective effect.”
Reduce obesity risk
Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Epidemiological data shows that high nut consumption is associated with lower incidence of obesity.
Nuts are able to suppress hunger by absorbing moisture in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, causing a person to feel fuller.
Some researchers hypothesise it’s due to the nuts impact on hormones which affect hunger, thus promoting feelings of fullness.