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Eat Nuts, Live Longer?

Study linked a daily handful of any nut to 20 percent reduction in death risk over 30 years

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Eating more nuts also was linked to a lower risk of death due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

The study uncovered an association between eating nuts and living longer, but it didn't prove cause-and-effect.

Fuchs said a 1-ounce serving was equal to about 16 to 24 almonds, 16 to 18 cashews or 30 to 35 peanuts.

People who ate nuts tended to be healthier overall, according to the study. They were leaner, had lower rates of obesity, had lower cholesterol, had less high blood sugar, had smaller waist circumferences, ate more fruits and vegetables, and exercised more than people who ate fewer or no nuts.

Fuchs and his team controlled the data to account for these factors.

One expert said what people who are eating nuts aren't eating instead is also important.

"This study adds to the research that nuts are part of an overall healthful diet, especially if people are choosing to have nuts instead of chips or candy," said Alice Bender, associate director for nutrition programs with the American Institute for Cancer Research.

"Nuts provide quality protein, fiber, good fats [and] B vitamins," she said. "Nuts are a whole package of health, and they've shown some cancer-protective qualities."

"But nuts aren't a magic bullet," she said. "They're just one part of all the wonderful foods we have. It's important to eat foods that are minimally processed."

"The best thing to do is to substitute nuts for other foods that may be crunchy or sweet," Bender said. "Replace some of those foods that don't contribute much to our diets with nuts. You'll be replacing empty calories with a whole food."

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