The frequency of nut consumption was associated with a lower mortality in a study of two large groups of men and women reported in the November 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. For individuals eating nuts less than once per week there was a 7% decrease in mortality risk compared to those who did not eat nuts. For those who ate nuts seven or more times per week there was a 20% decrease in mortality. There were significant associations between nut consumption and deaths resulting from cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Results were similar for peanuts and tree nuts.
Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which may confer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, antiinflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
This data is consistent with a wealth of existing studies supporting the health benefits of nuts. In addition to the nutrients listed above, nuts provide a number of phytochemicals including carotenoids, flavonoids, and phytosterols.
The authors of the study indicated that there might be a concern that frequent nut consumption can result in weight gain. However, in this and other clinical trials, nut intake was associated with reduced waist circumference, less weight gain, and a decreased risk of obesity.
Much is yet to be learned about these associations but it seems reasonable to add nuts to your daily diet.