According to the latest study from the New England Journal of Medicine regular consumption of nuts may prolong your life. “We found that people who ate nuts every day lived longer, healthier lives than people who didn’t eat nuts” said Dr. Frank Hu, the co-author of the study.
Although there have been numerous studies over the past decade that indicate nut consumption may be beneficial to our health, this study is one of the largest and longest of it’s kind (with over 120,000 participants and spanning 30 years).
About the Study
Participants filled out questionnaires where they were asked to indicated their nut eating habits. Each participant fell in to one of six different categories, ranging from no nuts to daily nut consumption. The study began in 1980, and participants were asked to follow up every 2-4 years until 2010.
Simply put, those who at more nuts lived longer.
“As compared with participants who did not eat nuts, those who consumed nuts seven or more times per week had a 20% lower death rate.”
“In conclusion, our analysis of samples from these two prospective cohort studies showed significant inverse associations of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality.”
Which Nuts are The Healthiest Choice?
There is no such thing as the “perfect” nut, so eating a variety of different types is the best way to take advantage of the different nutrient profiles each nut has to offer. With that being said, here are a few nuts that really stand out from a health perspective:
Best overall nutritional profile: Raw organic almonds
Highest in antioxidants (ORAC value): Raw organic pecans
Best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio: Raw organic macadamia nuts
Consider soaking certain nuts and seeds before consumption. This will minimize their phytic acid content, thus maximizing the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients that the nut has to offer.
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Although the study did indicate that those who ate more nuts fared better than those who didn’t, it’s still important not to go too nuts with your nut consumption.
Here are two reasons why:
#1 – Omega-3:6 ratio imbalance
Most nuts (with the exception of macadamia) contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and relatively low levels of omega-3’s. For example, walnuts have more omega-3’s than most nuts, but still have a poor 3:6 ratio.
Too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 fatty acids in our diet has been show to promote inflammation, a key contributor to many serious diseases and health problems.
If you consume a lot of nuts, make sure you are also eating foods that are rich in omega-3’s or are taking omega-3 supplements to ensure ratios don’t get out of balance.
#s – Phytic acid content
Another reason to avoid excessive nut consumption is due to the high phytic acid content of most nuts since too much of it in our diet can hinder the absorption of certain minerals. To decrease the phytic acid content, soak them for 8-12 hours in salt water.
How Many Nuts a Day?
Most studies suggest consuming around one handful of nuts a day in order to derive their health benefits. Any more than this amount might put your EFA (essential fatty acid) ratios out of balance, unless you are consuming plenty of omega-3 rich foods.
How often do you eat nuts, and what kind are your favourite?