Eating walnuts regularly may lower risk of death and increase life expectancy among older adults compared to those who do not eat the nuts, according to a Harvard-led study, published in the journal Nutrients.
Five or more servings of walnuts per week may provide the greatest benefit for reducing mortality risk and increasing life expectancy. There is a 14 per cent lower risk of death from any cause, 25 per cent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), and a gain in about 1.3 years of life expectancy, compared to those who didn’t consume walnuts.
“What we have learned from this study is that even a few handfuls of walnuts per week may help promote longevity, especially among those whose diet quality isn’t great to begin with,” said Yanping Li, senior research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US.
For this study, the researchers examined data from 67,014 women of the Nurses’ Health Study with an average age of 63.6 years and 26,326 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study aged 63.3 years in 1986. Participants were relatively healthy when they joined the studies, and were followed for about 20 years (1998-2018).
Based on this data, the researchers were able to identify associations between walnut consumption at varying levels and different health indicators related to longevity.
“We observed that participants with higher amounts of walnut consumption, as well as the frequency, had a lower risk for all-cause mortality and CVD mortality compared with non-consumers,” the authors of the study wrote.
Participants who consumed greater amounts of walnuts tended to be more physically active, have a healthier diet, lower alcohol consumption, and take multivitamins, they said.
All of these factors could influence life expectancy, however, the researchers adjusted for these aspects in their analysis.