If you want to live to a ripe old age, try adding some nuts to your diet. A new study has found that eating just half a handful of nuts every day could help you live longer.
Scientists have known about the cardiovascular benefits of eating nuts, but this is the first time researchers have looked at specific nuts and diseases.
A team at Maastricht University found that people who ate at least 10g (0.3oz) of nuts or peanuts a day had a 23% lower chance of death during the 10-year study period.
More than 120,000 Dutch 55-to-69-year-old men and women took part in the survey, which looked at both dietary and lifestyle habits. Researchers found that those who ate nuts were less likely to die from cancer, diabetes, respiratory and neurodegenerative diseases.
Overall, there was an average 23% lower risk of mortality across all diseases. Nuts were shown to be particularly beneficial for preventing neurodegenerative disease, with a 45% lower mortality rate, respiratory disease (39%) and diabetes (30%).
Lead researcher, Prof Piet van den Brandt, said: "It was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15g of nuts or peanuts on average per day."
Prof Van den Brandt told the BBC that the study took into account the mitigating factor that nut consumers ate more fruit and vegetables and that women who ate nuts were often leaner, and adjusted the results accordingly. Sadly, there was no benefit for peanut butter, which is high in salt and trans fats.
The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.