Would you consider yourself a nut lover? If so, you’ll definitely want to hear this great news: Recent research found that walnuts aren’t just a yummy snack; eating them regularly could also protect your heart in in the long run and add a year to your life.
In a study published in the scientific journal Nutrients, scientists looked at data from 67,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study between 1998 and 2018 as well as 26,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study during the same time period. Looking at their walnut consumption over the course of those two decades, they noticed something striking: Those who ate a larger quantity of walnuts over time lowered their risk of dying from cardiovascular issues like heart disease and increased their longevity.
In fact, people who ate roughly five servings of walnuts every week (one serving is about seven walnuts) added up to an extra year to their overall life expectancy. Those participants also had a drop in heart disease risk by 25 percent. Even those who ate just two to four servings per week lowered their likelihood of dying from heart disease and improved their longevity. Moreover, what researchers found just as noteworthy is that people who ate “suboptimal” diets — that is, folks who weren’t eating particularly healthy in general — still saw their risk of dying from heart disease drop by 26 percent and their overall risk of death decrease by 12 percent. In other words, adding walnuts to their diets without changing anything else still lent itself to improvement.
What makes walnuts so power is the combination of healthy fats mixed with key vitamins and minerals, like calcium, copper, and magnesium, to keep your body working properly even as you age.
Given that their findings were based on an observational study though, scientists hope they can do more research in the future to confirm their discoveries. That said, if you were looking for a sign to add more nuts to your diet, now might be the time to do so. They provide a much-needed crunch to salads (like this apple walnut one!) and breakfast granola, and you can even include them in desserts like brownies. Talk about being delicious and nutritious.