Health Column: Nuts to you! | PostIndependent.com
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Health Column: Nuts to you!

Phil Mohler, M.D.
MOHLER’S MEDICATION MAXIMS
Free Press Health Columnist
Mixed Nuts
Getty Images/Purestock | Purestock

In spite of the best efforts of the Almond Growers Association of California, the Squirrel Scholars of South Dakota and the Australian Psychiatric Society, nuts have gotten lots of bad press: They’re full of fat and calories, and nuts make you gain weight!

Now, there is a new study from Harvard that indicates that people who eat nuts tend to live longer than those that don’t eat them. A group of more 119,000 healthcare workers were followed over a period of 30 years. They were asked about their food intake every two years. The researchers found that nut eaters had lower death rates than abstainers from nuts. The more nuts one eats the less likely one was to die.

Below is a summary comparing the death rate of those who ate nuts compared with those that ate no nuts.



Less than one serving per week — seven percent fewer deaths



One serving per week — 11 percent fewer deaths

Two to four servings per week — 13 percent fewer deaths

Five to six servings per week — 15 percent fewer deaths

Seven or more servings per week — 20 percent fewer deaths

A serving was defined as a 1/4 of a cup, a baby food jar, a shot glass full, or the number of nuts it takes to cover a three-by-three-inch sticky note — depending on where you are in life.

When they cracked open the data, the scientists found that the biggest effect was on decreased heart attacks and strokes, but the death rates from cancer were also lower in nut eaters. Although different nuts have unique mixtures of nutrients (unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants) all tree nuts seemed to be equally effective in reducing deaths, as did peanuts, a legume.

How much are you going to have to shell out for your new nut habit? In a survey of shelled nuts done at Safeway, Sprouts and Sam’s Club done in early March, prices ranged from $3.50 a pound for peanuts to $14 a pound for Macadamia nuts. Sprouts has a wide assortment of shelled nuts in bulk and Sam’s sells two pounds of shelled walnuts for $12.98.

GJ Free Press health columnist Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 39 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Email him at pjmohler@bresnan.net.


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