A handful of nuts each day can lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes.

Go nuts for better health

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Recent research from the Netherlands shows that a handful of nuts may be a healthy snack option. The Netherlands Cohort Study of more than 120,000 middle-aged men and women has been ongoing since 1986. They are looking at many aspects of their lives and lifestyle habits. In this case they were looking at health and intake of peanuts, peanut butter and tree nuts.

There was protection. A handful of nuts daily protected health, but there was no health protection from peanut butter or eating more than a handful each day.

How did the handful of nuts help? There was a lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes. There was some moderate protection from dying of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Eating more nuts did not give greater protection from early death. This is good to know because a handful of nuts can range from 150-250 calories.

What is it healthwise about peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and pistachios? Researchers do not know exactly but it could be:

  • The antioxidants
  • The healthy combination of fats
  • Vitamins 
  • Fiber and natural plant phytochemicals

How can you increase nuts in your menus?

  • Stir into cooked cereals like oatmeal and hot grains like brown rice and quinoa
  • Toss into vegetable salads
  • Sprinkle over cooked vegetables
  • Mix into stir fry dishes

Recipes including nuts:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.