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Nuts deliver loads of nutrients, and may even boost longevity

Imagine if there was a food – or category of foods – that could single-handedly lengthen your life.

Well, such a wonder food may actually exist.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), showed that people who ate a 1-ounce serving of nuts seven or more times each week had a 20 percent lower death rate than those who didn’t eat any.

It’s important to note this was merely an observational study, and not one where researchers controlled which group of participants ate nuts (and how much), then studied who lived longer. Yet the positive findings in this study support the abundance of other data demonstrating the health benefits of eating nuts, including lowering risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.

For example, another recent study – this one published in Metabolism – showed men and women who added 1.5 ounces of walnuts (about 21 halves) to their normal daily diet for just eight weeks significantly improved their cholesterol, triglycerides and other blood lipid levels.

The authors think the healthy polyunsaturated fats in the walnuts were responsible for the positive changes.

In addition to good-for-you fats, nuts deliver fiber, protein and other key vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, selenium and phosphorus.

Of course, nuts are high in calories – and so it’s important to mind your portion size. Check the list below for how many nuts of each variety are in a 1-ounce serving – and their calorie count:

Pistachios (49):

161 calories

Peanuts (28):

162 calories

Almonds (22):

170 calories

Cashews (16):

157 calories

Pecans (19 halves):

196 calories

Walnuts (14 halves):

185 calories

Pick whichever nuts are your favorites – the NEJM study didn’t focus on any one type of nut – and consider eating them in place of less-healthy snacks including chips, pretzels or crackers.

It just might extend your life.

Christopher Mohr is a registered dietitian.