A daily serving of nuts can slash the risk of heart disease by nearly a third, new research shows.
Snacking on peanuts, cashews and Brazil nuts instead of sugary or fatty treats cut the chances of life-threatening heart problems by around 30 per cent.
It also reduced the number of deaths from all causes by about 17 per cent.
The latest research, by US and Chinese scientists, is the latest in a long line of studies highlighting the substantial health benefits of including nuts as part of the daily diet. Last year, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that nuts significantly curbed premature deaths rates from heart disease and also lowered the chances of dying from cancer by 11 per cent.
Nuts contain a rich combination of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. These work together to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body.
Experts from Hua Zhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA, looked at the health benefits of nuts by pooling data from a number of earlier studies.
This research technique can produce a stronger result than small-scale studies with limited numbers of people.
They included 18 different studies, covering more than 12,000 cases of type two diabetes, 15,000 cases of heart disease and almost 50,000 deaths.
The results, published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that for each daily serving of nuts the risk of heart disease dropped by between 28 and 29 per cent and the danger of death from any cause was 17 per cent lower.
However, there was no significant difference in diabetes rates between nut eaters and non-eaters and a relatively small reduction in the risk of stroke.
In a report on their findings the researchers said: These findings support recommendations to include nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern for the prevention of chronic diseases.'