The #1 Best Food to Eat Every Day for a Longer Life, Says Dietitian — Eat This Not That

Living a long and healthy life is a goal that most of us strive to achieve. And while factors that are completely out of our control—like our genetics—can play a big part in whether we will live to experience our 100th birthday, other factors like our dietary choices can also play a role.

In fact, researchers had shown that 20-year-olds who start to include more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, while at the same time limiting processed foods, increased their lifespan by 10-13 years. Those who started following a more healthy diet at age 60 might add eight or nine years of life, according to the same study published in PLOS Medicine.

Following the Mediterranean dietary patterns—which focuses on olive oil, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, and produce—tends to result in an increase in their life expectancy, in part thanks to the anti-inflammatory benefits that this dietary pattern offers. As such, principles of this diet are oftentimes toted as a “fountain of youth,” of sorts.

But if a person wants to know which individual food choices they should be focusing on instead of learning about entire dietary patterns, there are quite a few options that can help extend a person’s life when they are eaten consistently.

When it comes to acceptable foods that, when eaten every day, may help support the goal of living a longer life, one of the top picks is a daily serving of nuts.

Why nuts are the best food to eat every day for a longer life

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Nuts are the ultimate superfood—from walnuts to almonds to the utterly snackable pistachio. Packed with a balance of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, certain vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein, eating nuts fuels your body with numerous important nutrients.

Including certain nuts in your diet doesn’t only pack a punch in the flavor department. If you are consistently eating nuts, you can expect to experience outcomes like reduced cholesterol levels, managed blood sugar levels, and even weight loss (especially if you are overweight or have obesity).

And as an extra-enticing bonus, eating a daily dose of certain nuts may quite literally help you live a longer life.

The studies

After researchers conducted a meta-analysis evaluating 20 studies, results suggest that a 28 grams per day increase in nut intake was associated with an overall 22 percent decrease in the risk of early death due to any cause. Results also showed a reduced risk of early death due to respiratory diseases, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, infectious disease, and kidney disease.

Other data showed that eating a daily handful of nuts resulted in a 20 percent risk reduction of early death over a 30-year period compared to those who didn’t consume nuts

When it comes to walnuts specifically, a large observational study using data that was collected over 20 years showed that eating at least five servings of walnuts every week is linked to a reduced risk of early death—even for people who followed “suboptimal” diet qualities . According to the results, for each 0.5 serving increase in walnut consumption per day, participants had a 9% lower risk of early death.

Data shows that eating other nuts, like almonds and pistachios, also offers longevity benefits.

How to add more nuts to your diet

Nuts are an ideal food to focus on if you are trying to add years to your life, as they are an easy food to include in your diet. While some “superfoods” can be challenging to sneak into a busy lifestyle, nuts are perfectly portable and are a simple accompaniment to salads, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and many more dishes.

Not a crunch lover? Nut butters, like walnut, almond, and even pistachio butter, can provide your body with the same vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other nutrients that intact nuts offer.

While eating a handful of nuts every day won’t be the secret fountain of youth, including these crunchy morsels in your diet along with participating in physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and managing stress may help you live to see your centennial birthday.

Lauren ManakerMS, RDN, LD, CLEC

Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, book author, and recipe developer who has been in practice for almost 20 years. Read more about Lauren