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Should You Eat Lots of Nuts?

A new study points to a very big effect of regular nut consumption — for me almost too big to be believed.

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

December 3, 2013 - 7:00 am
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Some years ago a medical paper was published that caused a run on Brazil nuts throughout the western world. For a time they disappeared entirely from supermarket shelves; for Brazil nuts contain a high level of selenium and the medical paper had suggested that the high rate of heart attacks in a certain province of China was caused by the exceptionally low level of selenium in the inhabitants’ diet.

But of course for every panacea there is an equal and opposite health scare. Brazil nuts concentrate radium and give off more radiation than any other food; they also often contain relatively high levels of aflatoxin, produced by a fungus of the Aspergillus genus. Aflatoxins are very carcinogenic, leading to cancer of the liver.

So where Brazil nuts are concerned, the question boils down to whether you would prefer to die of heart attack or cancer.

A paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that, overall, nuts are very good for you. The authors compared the death rates among female nurses and male health nurses according to their self-reported consumption of nuts. They divided nut consumption into true nuts and peanuts, the latter being legumes rather than nuts.

I never cease to be amazed at the organizational feat of such studies: 76,464 women and 42,498 men were followed up between 1980 and 2010 and 1986 and 2010, respectively. After various statistical manipulations which 99 percent of the readership of the NEJM would not understand it was found that the more nuts people ate (including the false nuts known as peanuts), the lower their all-cause mortality. They didn’t just die less of such illnesses as heart attack, stroke and cancer, but of all illnesses whatsoever. At last, then, the panacea!

People who ate nuts more than seven times a week(!), hunter-gatherer style, had a 20 percent less chance of dying in the period of follow up than those who never ate nuts. This is a very big effect, for me almost too big to be believed.

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Top Rated Comments   
Smart man say nuts good. Mongo eat more nuts.
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (24)
All Comments   (24)
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It never ceases to amaze me that studies based on self-reported food consumption manage to get published, much less be given any credence.

The posting of your hospital warning notice, on the other hand, should become mandatory for accreditation!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think "May contain nuts." should be warning notice on every Leftist website and newsrag (NYT, I'm looking at you!).


18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
As far as snacks go, nuts are one of the most nutritious: protein, good fat, micro-nutrients. They are also several times more expensive than junk foods with similar fat content. So only health conscious people buy nuts.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I discovered the salutary effects of nut eating some time ago. I used to have pecans with my morning gruel. Now I have gruel with my morning pecans. I was putting away about 5 lbs every 8-10 days from Dec until Sep when I just couldn't eat another bite of gruel if my life depended on it. Surprisingly from Dec to Sep I lost almost 30 lbs, partly I'm sure because the pecans are so filling. I was eating them 3 handfuls every morning. I have a supplier of fresh nuts in Natchitoches Pecans in Louisiana - you can google 'em if you're interested. Ask for Julie. Tell her I sent you. I know this sounds like a cheesy ad, but I'm a regular here and I swear I'm relating my own experience.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nut eaters may be less likely to be tobacco users, overweight, or consumers of large amounts of sugar or corn syrup. Did the study control for these or other co-factors? (I do eat walnuts.)
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would write this article off except for the breadth of the study and the fact it was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a highly respected peer-reviewed medical publication. Most nuts are tasty, and I would eat more if not for the fact they are a high calorie snack. Maybe I'll step up my nut consumption and see what happens.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lots of us have been in the know on this for years. Not all nuts are created equal.... Several varieties contain very high %'s of vitamins and the good fats. They also have the advantage of density, eating a smaller amount fills you up.

The recommendations on increasing nuts in your diet are fairly easy.... put a cup in Ziplock bag first thing every morning and snack from it during the day. Add them into your meal prep - nuts go great in salads, I add mine to my rice as a side dish, toss them on your cereal or your ice cream.

As for nut allergies... if you run into a potential problem, take the time to discern the actual cause. Over time, it appears that many reactions to other nuts were likely due to cross contamination - ie, pecans being processed on the same equipment used for peanuts.

Finally, get your nuts from quality sources. The grocery store is the worst. Lots of producers have their own websites where you can buy this year's crops direct from the growers.

Disclaimer: We're pecan growers!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was surprised to learn that for protein, almonds can't be beat. I just wish they had the flavor of, say, pecans. I looooooooooooooove pecans. Don't put 'em in no candy. Don't put 'em no pies. Just givem to me raw by the handfuls. They're easier and cleaner than processed snack foods, you can take 'em anywhere, eat 'em anytime. I guess that's true of any nut, but why settle for less than the best.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
who funded the study?

I've got a wild hunch that buried in the funding details, there are some businesses that sell nuts.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who the eff cares what anyone says you should (or should not) eat...

I eat what I want, becuase it tastes good and I LIKE it.
I'm always willing to try new foods that seem appealing, because I might LIKE them too, and that would be cool.

I exercise too, because I LIKE it and it makes me FEEL good.

Why would I ever contort my life to eating, and doing, things I dont LIKE?

Because someone ELSE, with completely differrnt genetics (the number one factor of lifespan) says so?

Everyone just STFU about whats "healthy" and enjoy the abundance our ancestors never had....steak whenever we want it, strawberries and pineapples all year long, Ice Cream withinn walking distance practically anywhere you are...

Just dont be a complete freaking PIG, and Nature will take care of you just fine....
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Almonds are a great low carb snack and have saved the munchy part of my diet. Fat doesn't always make you fat. The medical establishment has been sloth in understanding this...
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The medical establishment doesn't believe in nutrition unless you can't get any kind of food at all. They're definitely against starvation and cholesterol but beyond that they ain't much help.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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