Snacking on Walnuts May Help Add Years to Your Life: Study

Snacking on walnuts instead of biscuits or sweets may add years to your life, according to research. A handful of nuts a day reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other life-threatening conditions linked to obesity.

The superfood is packed with chemicals that protect DNA by destroying reactive molecules, or oxidants. The study was published in the Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Diseases journal.

A study found regular consumers were slimmer and fitter as they got older. They had fewer harmful fats, called triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.

Walnuts
A picture showing walnuts. Snacking on walnuts instead of biscuits or sweets may add years to your life, according to new research. Unsplash

"Walnut eaters seem to have a unique body phenotype that carries with it other positive impacts on health like better diet quality," said lead author Professor Lyn Steffen of the University of Minnesota.

"This is especially so when they start eating walnuts from young into middle adulthood—as the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes elevates," Steffen said.

The findings are based on more than 3,000 individuals across the U.S. who were tracked for three decades, into their fifties.

Among walnut eaters, average weight gain was less, there were fewer cases of obesity, and fasting blood glucose was lower. They also had lower bad cholesterol than eaters of other nuts.

A model of a human heart
A model of a human heart. Among walnut eaters, average weight gain was less, there were fewer cases of obesity, and fasting blood glucose was lower. Unsplash

Nut consumers showed an advantage in relation to diet quality, but walnut consumers appear to have a better heart disease risk factor profile than other groups, even after accounting for overall diet quality.

"The surprising, healthy shifts in the overall dietary pattern of walnut consumers suggests walnuts may act as a bridge or 'carrier' food," Steffen said.

Walnuts are rich in healthy plant chemicals including polyunsaturated fat and omega fatty acids which combat bad cholesterol. They dampen inflammation that can lead to a clotted vessel—and trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Walnuts
A picture showing walnuts. Walnuts are rich in healthy plant chemicals including polyunsaturated fat and omega fatty acids which combat bad cholesterol. Unsplash

The study says walnuts might be an easy and accessible food choice to boost the heart when eaten up to middle age. It could be due to the "unique combination of nutrients" and their effect on health, Steffen said.

About an ounce a day—equivalent to seven whole walnuts—has four grams of protein and two grams of fiber. It is also a good source of magnesium which is important for the muscles and nerves and increases energy.

The study—backed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in the U.S.—was also partly funded by the California Walnut Commission.

It took into account other heart disease risk factors including overall diet, smoking, and body composition.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker.

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.