Eat the Nut too!

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  In extorting people to “Eat the Seed, you Nut” one should not lose sight of the fact that nuts are indeed seeds also. But be reasonable!….  Don’t eat your nuts dry roasted (that oxidizes and destroys the healthy oils) and don’t eat them salted! (need I tell you why?)   Go ahead: be a health food “nut”  – like all derogatory terms thrown at good innovative people,  being called a nut is actually an honor!   You recall that another insult “snake oil” is also steeped in excellent scientific justification. Read all about it!

“… The bottom line is that daily nut consumption over time causes about a 20 percent decline in most causes of death. Very few drugs can provide similar health benefits…”



Nuts prevent death from cancer and other causes

One of the most intriguing health stories of the year established a link between the consumption of tree or ground nuts and sharply lower rates of mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease and other causes of death (Bao 2013).

The bottom line is that daily nut consumption over time causes about a 20 percent decline in most causes of death. Very few drugs can provide similar health benefits.

Of course, advocates of natural health have long postulated the benefit of nuts. Not for nothing are they called “health nuts”! But in 1992, the Adventist Health Study gave scientific evidence that eating nuts prevented death, specifically from heart disease (Fraser 1992).

This was a controversial finding at the time. Some physicians simply could not believe that a common food could prevent death from serious illness. Writing in JAMA Internal Medicine, one author, Gabe Mirken, MD, postulated that the health benefit seen among Seventh Day Adventists came from the absence of whole-milk dairy and eggs, not the presence of nuts. He went so far as to say: “Nuts do not prevent heart attacks.”

Two decades later, it turns out that nuts do prevent heart attacks, and also prevent deaths from diabetes, stroke and several forms of cancer. There was also a 25 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular disease, 29 percent for heart disease, 24 percent for respiratory disease, etc. The exact reason for this benefit remains unclear, but nuts are a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, as well as fiber, phytosterols and certain antioxidants.

Even the FDA now concedes that 1.5 ounces of nuts per day, taken as part of a low-fat diet, “may reduce the risk of heart disease.”


In 1998, as part of the Adventist study, it was shown that nut consumption reduced the risk of colorectal cancer. However, this news was obscured at the time because the Adventist study focused on the harm of high red meat consumption, low legume intake, and high body mass index. Those three factors led to a “threefold elevation in risk” of colorectal cancer (Singh 1998).

In the latest study, there was an 11 percent reduction in cancer overall.

The present study was funded by the Tree Nut Council, which of course raised some skeptical eyebrows. However, given the high quality of this study, and its breadth (76,000+ participants from the Nurses’ Health Study and 42,000+ from the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study) I think we can accept the authors’ assertion that the sponsors had nothing to do with the positive outcome of the paper.

Simply put, nuts are good for you. They help prevent some cancers as well as a host of other illnesses. They are also delicious. So, unless you are allergic to them, the only good reason not to eat them is that they are too delicious and may add unwanted pounds. But even that risk is oversstated, since they may reduce the number of empty calories that people eat.

My “gut” instinct is that raw nuts may have some health benefits that are missing in roasted nuts, and I personally try to include pecans, walnuts or other unprocessed nuts in my daily regimen.


Bao Y, Han J, Hu FB, et al. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:2001-2011.

Fraser GE, Sabaté J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM.  A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease: the Adventist Health Study . Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1416-1424.

Mirkin G. Nuts do not prevent heart attacks. Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(1):125-125


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