Just a 1 ounce portion is enough to slash the risk of heart disease, cancer and even obesity. Analysis suggests even a small daily serving cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by 30 per cent, cancer by 15 per cent and premature death by 22 per cent.
It can also halve the risk of respiratory disease and reduces diabetes by nearly 40 per cent
Nuts are thought to possess such health-boosting properties some experts think they should be widely prescribed on the NHS.
Study co-author Dagfinn Aune, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London, said: “We found a consistent reduction in risk across many different diseases, which is a strong indication there is a real underlying relationship between nut consumption and different health outcomes.
“It’s quite a substantial effect for such a small amount of food.”
Nuts are considered a super food because they possess anti-inflammatory qualities and are also high in protein and fibre.
Researchers analysed 29 global studies involving 819,000 people, including 12,000 cases of coronary heart disease, 9,000 cases of stroke, 18,000 cases of cardiovascular disease and cancer and 85,000 deaths, to assess the link between nuts and improved health.
In research published in the journal BMC Medicine today experts from Imperial and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found eating them was associated with a reduction in disease risk.
Mr Aune said: “In nutritional studies so far much of the research has been on the big killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, but now we’re starting to see data for other diseases.
“Even though nuts are quite high in fat they are also high in fibre and protein and there is some evidence that suggests nuts might actually reduce your risk of obesity over time.”
There was little evidence more than 1 ounce of nuts a day provided significant health benefits.
Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said: “This analysis adds further value to scores of clinical studies that reveal the positive health impact of regular nut consumption.
“Their mechanism of benefit appears to be through anti-inflammatory properties. It’s time doctors started prescribing nuts to patients which will not only help prevent heart attacks and deaths within a short space of time but combined with other lifestyle interventions would save the NHS billions.”
The findings come after a separate study showed walnuts helped stave off heart disease by reducing levels of bad cholesterol.