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A study published November 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine based on a 30-year study by researchers at Harvard, shows that eating nuts may reduce risk of death. Previous research has shown the health benefits of nuts, but this study provides the strongest evidence to date about how consuming nuts can reduce a person’s risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and other diseases. The following are study results summarized by Einstein registered dietitian Theresa Shank, RD: Researchers at Harvard tracked 118,000 healthy men and women and found that those who ate a one-ounce daily serving of tree nuts had a 20 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the thirty-year long study compared to people who did not eat nuts. Benefits were seen from peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree nuts. Researchers did not examine how the nuts were prepared – whether they were raw or roasted, salted or oiled. People who ate nuts were 25 percent less likely to die from heart disease, 10 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 20 percent less likely to die from diabetes as well as lung diseases. The study found that people who ate nuts experienced longer life spans even if they did not exercise, avoided fruits and vegetables, and were overweight. It’s not clear why nuts may boost health. It could be that their unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients lower cholesterol and inflammation and reduce other problems, as earlier studies have shown.Research on diets is tricky because it’s difficult to single out the effects of any one food. For example, for someone who eats nuts on salads, some of the health benefits may come from the leafy greens rather than from the nuts. The American Heart Association recommends four servings of unsalted nuts a week and warns against eating too many, since they are high in calories and can lead to weight gain.The National Institutes of Health and the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation sponsored the study, but the nut group played no role in designing the study or reporting the results. Check with a healthcare professional if you have questions about this study or have other nutrition-related questions.