A number of prospective studies have observed inverse associations between nut consumption and chronic diseases. However, these studies have predominantly been conducted in Western countries, where nut consumption tends to be more common among individuals with healthier lifestyles. It is important to examine the association in other parts of the world, and particularly among populations with different patterns of disease, socioeconomic status, lifestyles and disease risk factors. Our objective was to examine the association between nut consumption and mortality in a population whose nut consumption does not track with a healthy lifestyle.
We examined the association between nut consumption and all-cause and cause-specific mortality in the 50 045 participants of the Golestan Cohort Study. Participants were aged 40 and older at baseline in 2004, and have been actively followed since that time. Dietary data were collected using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire that was administered at baseline.
During 349 677 person-years of follow-up, 3981 cohort participants died, including 1732 women and 2249 men. Nut consumption was associated inversely with all-cause mortality. The pooled multivariate adjusted hazard ratios for death among participants who ate nuts, as compared with those who did not, were 0.89 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.82-0.95] for the consumption of less than one serving of nuts per week, 0.75 (95% CI, 0.67-0.85) for one to less than three servings per week and 0.71 (95% CI, 0.58-0.86) for three or more servings per week (P < 0.001 for trend). Among specific causes, significant inverse associations were observed between nut consumption and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, all cancers and gastrointestinal cancers.
This study provides evidence for an inverse association between nut consumption and mortality in a developing country, where nut consumption does not track with a healthy lifestyle. Further work is needed to establish the underlying mechanisms responsible for this association.