Tree Nut Consumption Associated with Reduced Total and Cause-Specific Mortality: Largest Study to Date on Nut Consumption and Mortality in New England Journal of Medicine

Davis, CA, November 20, 2013 – In a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at the association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Consumption of nuts, including tree nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts), was inversely associated with total mortality in both men and women, independent of other predictors for death. In addition, there were significant inverse associations for deaths due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

“Compared with those who did not eat nuts, individuals who consumed nuts (serving size of one ounce) seven or more times per week had a 20% lower death rate and this association was dose-dependent,” stated lead author, Ying Bao, MD, ScD, from the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.  “Those who consumed more nuts were also leaner, and tended to have a healthy lifestyle, such as smoking less and exercising more,” added Dr. Bao.

This is the largest study to date to examine the relation between nut consumption and total mortality, and the results are consistent with previous studies, according to senior author, Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, from the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA.  “The findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity,” reported Dr. Fuchs.

Nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamins (i.e., vitamin E, folate and niacin) minerals (i.e., magnesium, calcium and potassium) and phytochemicals—all of which may offer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

“With current nut consumption well below the recommended 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (in the FDA qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease) we need to continue to encourage people to have a handful of nuts every day,” recommends Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF).