Bust out the pot scale, friends. A massive new academic review links 20 grams of daily nut consumption to a lower risk of all sorts of life-threatening diseases.
Are you ready for a stat-storm of good news? Okay then. Brace yourself.
After looking at 20 studies that covered more than 800,000 people, the new research, which was published in BMC Medicine, found that a daily serving of nuts (including both peanuts, which are actually legumes, and tree nuts, like walnuts and almonds) was associated with a 7 percent lower risk of stroke, 15 percent lower risk of cancer, 21 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease risk, 29 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk, 52 percent lower risk of respiratory disease mortality, 39 percent reduction in diabetes mortality risk, and 75 percent reduction in infectious disease mortality. Whew.
Additionally, the study linked nuts to a 35 percent reduction in neurodegenerative disease mortality and a 73 percent reduction in kidney disease mortality—but the number of studies reporting on these deaths was too low to reach statistical significance. Nuts contain fiber, a host of nutrients, and healthy fats, all of which likely give them various health-bestowing properties, the researchers say.
All data considered, the risk of mortality—which is to say, the odds that a person would die during the study period—was 22 percent lower for people eating one serving, or 28 grams of nuts, per day. That said, the researchers point out that the disease-fighting effect essentially levels off after 20 grams. That's roughly a small handful, or the amount you eat just before accidentally finishing the entire can.
This knowledge could save a lot of lives, write the researchers. Assuming the results are causal—that eating nuts actually produced the disease reduction rather than some unknown confounding factor—then 20 grams of nuts per day might have prevented 4.4 million deaths in 2013 in the areas examined by the studies (North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific region).