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Research continues to underscore the importance of healthy eating by drilling down into specific dietary components. Although the relationship between diet and all-cause mortality is complex, certain items are associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer. According to a study published in the Natural Medicine Journal, walnuts fall into this category.

This is one of the key findings from a study that followed the eating habits of 7,216 individuals.

Nut consumption of participants was evaluated at the start of the study using a 137-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire administered in face-to-face interviews by dieticians.

Information on self-reported nut intake in general and walnut intake specifically was obtained.

Participants reported the frequency and quantity of nut (and specifically walnut) consumption.

For the purpose of this study, 28 grams of nuts was considered to be one serving.

What did the researchers find out?

During a median follow-up of 4.8 years, 323 total deaths, including 81 cardiovascular deaths and 130 cancer deaths, occurred.

Nut consumption was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality.

Compared to non-consumers, subjects consuming more than three servings of nuts a week (32 percent of the cohort) had a 39 percent lower mortality risk.

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“A similar protective effect against cardiovascular and cancer mortality was observed,” wrote the study authors.

Participants allocated to a Mediterranean-style diet with nuts who consumed more than three servings a week from the start of the study also had the lowest total mortality risk.

“The results of this study have shown an effect of any nut consumption on all outcomes,” concluded the study’s authors.

The benefits of eating nuts have also been illustrated by the risks posed by not getting enough in your diet.

Harvard Health cites an analysis of the US population’s eating habits and health outcomes.

The nation-wide study found eating too few nuts and seeds was associated with an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

For that study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy relied on a model that used data from scores of observational studies on diet and health, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which provided detailed information on Americans’ eating habits over the decade ending in 2012.

They estimated that in 2012, over 300,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes — about 45 percent of all deaths from those conditions — were associated with eating either too much or too little of 10 nutrients.

Other key lifestyle tips

In addition to eating healthily, regular exercise can promote longevity.

“Adults should do some type of physical activity every day. Any type of activity is good for you,” explains the NHS.

The health body says adults should do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least two days a week.

You should also:

  • Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
  • Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.

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