December 23/Fresno, Calif./Business Wire -- In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at the association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Consumption of nuts, including tree nuts (such as pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts), was inversely associated with total mortality in both men and women, independent of other predictors for death. In addition, there were significant inverse associations for deaths due to cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

This is the largest study to date to examine the relation between nut consumption and total mortality, and the results are consistent with previous studies, according to senior author, Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, from the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston. “The findings from our study and others suggest a potential benefit of nut consumption for promoting health and longevity,” reported Fuchs.

Nuts contain important nutrients such as unsaturated fats, high quality protein, vitamins (i.e., vitamin E, folate and niacin) minerals (i.e., magnesium, calcium and potassium) and phytochemicals -- all of which may offer cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Previous studies have supported the disease-protective power of nuts, specifically pistachios. Studies suggest that pistachios eaten in moderation may help support healthy blood glucose levels. Additionally, the FDA recognizes that eating 1.5oz. per day of most tree nuts, including pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower the risk of heart disease. And for weight maintenance, emerging research suggests that the actual act of opening the shell to eat a pistachio helps to slow down the eating process. The shells appear to serve as a visual cue in reducing caloric consumption. Even though fewer calories (and pistachios) are consumed, there was no difference in satisfaction.

A one-ounce serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more per serving than any other snack nut, and provides a good source of fiber (3g), 6g of protein and 11g of heart healthy fat all for just 160 calories.

Prof. Ge Sheng, the director of Clinical Nutrition Department from Shanghai 6th People’s Hospital agrees with the point of this research and mentions that relevant research in India also has proved that eating adequate amount of pistachios is beneficial to one’s health. For example, researchers have found that 40g pistachios per day may reduce the weight and the visceral fat of diabetics, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases for patients with metabolic syndrome. Researchers think pistachio may help reduce appetite and food intake so as to regulate blood glucose. In fact, the hard shells of pistachios make it more difficult to get the kernel and also help slow down the eating speed, which efficiently controls the blood glucose.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with additional support from The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF).