The Health Benefits of Eating Nuts Includes Living Longer

Eating a handful of nuts every day could add years to your life, according to a large, well-done study. Find out how to get the benefits, plus learn tips for enjoying nuts more often.


A Handful of Nuts a Day
If you’re nut-eating is limited to the occasional snack on an airplane or smear of peanut butter on your toast, you could be missing out on some major health benefits. It’s been known for a while that eating nuts is linked with a reduced risk of major diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But only recently has nuts’ connection with longevity become clear.

New Science on Nuts
A few small studies previously suggested that eating nuts may decrease risk of dying prematurely. Then a large study in the New England Journal of Medicine (November 21, 2013) found that eating nuts seven or more times per week was linked with a 20 percent lower risk of dying, in general, compared with not eating nuts. Even eating nuts just once a week was linked with an 11 percent lower risk of dying. The study also showed that the more frequently people ate nuts, the lower their risk for most major causes of death, including cancer and heart disease.

To conduct the study, researchers periodically surveyed 119,000 women and men over a 30-year period, asking how frequently they ate a 1-ounce serving of nuts, as well as tracking changes in their health and other diet and lifestyle influences. Although this type of study can’t prove cause and effect, the fact that it was a large study with a lengthy follow-up period strengthens its findings. Additionally, this new study is supported by previous clinical studies showing that eating nuts might help lower cholesterol levels, decrease high blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance, and keep blood vessels healthy.

Which Nuts Are Best for Health?
In the study, the researchers counted all tree nuts, as well as peanuts (which are technically legumes), in their tally. When they analyzed results exclusively with tree nuts and exclusively with peanuts, the health and longevity benefits increase for both types of nuts. Health advantages of individual types of tree nuts versus others weren’t assessed in this study, nor has this typically been directly examined in other studies.

Nuts are jam-packed with nutritious components, including healthful unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nut phytonutrients have been shown to perform many valuable activities, including working as antioxidants to help fight free-radical damage, as well as helping to prevent inflammation and lowering blood cholesterol.

Compared with other nuts, walnuts are especially high in a plant form of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Walnuts also may be a superior source of phytonutrients, which are highest in the papery brown skin that typically sticks to walnuts. So it’s been speculated that walnuts may be especially healthful among nuts, but this hasn’t been tested in clinical research that pits one nut against another.



Save Your Vision

People with diabetes are at risk for vision loss. But with these 11 eye-protecting tips, you may save your vision from glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy — the three eye complications that make up diabetic eye disease.

1. Protect Your Eyes

2. Wear Sunglasses

3. Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat

4. Step Away from the Computer Screen

5. Quit Smoking

6. Eat Foods Packed with Antioxidants

7. Keep Blood Glucose in Check

8. Exercise Regularly

9. Lower Your Blood Pressure

10. Lower Your Cholesterol

11. Have a Comprehensive Dilated Eye Exam



Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control

Changing your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it’s never too late to start. Consider these tips.

Tip 1: Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:

  • * Lose weight
  • * Lower your blood sugar
  • * Boost your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
  • * Research shows that both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but the greater benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.

Tip 2: Get plenty of fiber
It’s rough, it’s tough — and it may help you:

  • * Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
  • * Lower your risk of heart disease
  • * Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
  • * Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Tip 3: Go for whole grains
Although it’s not clear why, whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and many cereals. Look for the word “whole” on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.

Tip 4: Lose extra weight If you’re overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much. Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

Tip 5: Skip fad diets and just make healthier choices Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn’t known nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy-eating plan.

When to see your doctor If you’re older than age 45 and your weight is normal, ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:

  • You’re age 45 or older and overweight
  • You’re younger than age 45 and overweight with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes
  • Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He or she will applaud your efforts to keep diabetes at bay, and perhaps offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.