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Eating Nuts May Lengthen Lifespan

Update Date: Jul 17, 2013 02:11 PM EDT

Eating nuts may promote longevity, according to new research.

Scientists found that people who eat nuts, particularly walnuts, are more likely to live longer.

The long-term study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, reveals that people who eat nuts more than three times a week have a reduced risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease than people who don't eat nuts.

The nutritional study conducted in Spain looked at the effect on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease of over 7,000 people aged 55 to 90. Participants were put on either a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts or a control group following a low fat diet.

Researchers said that people in Mediterranean counties tend to consume more nuts than people in other countries. In the study, people who ate nuts tended to have a lower BMI and smaller waist.  They were also less likely to smoke and were more physically active than those who rarely or never ate nuts. People who ate nuts also ate more vegetables, fruit and fish.

The study also revealed that there were significantly fewer people with type 2 diabetes or hypertension in the group of people who ate the most nuts.

The findings suggested that overall, nut eaters had a 39 percent lower mortality risk and walnut eaters had a 45 percent lower risk than non-nut eaters.

Researchers found that people eating more than 3 servings (1 serving is equivalent to 28 grams) of nuts a week reduced their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease by 55 percent and cancer by 40 percent.

"Quite how nuts are able prevent premature mortality is not entirely clear, nor why walnut should be better for you than other nuts. Walnuts have particularly high content of alpha-linoleic acid and phytochemicals, especially in their 'skin' both of which, along with fiber and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, may contribute to their healthy effect," lead researcher Professor Jordi Salas-Salvadó, from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, said in a news release.

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