Science has not yet overturned every stone but if there is one area beyond refutation it is the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet if you want to increase your life expectancy. This is because diet has been shown to provide a buffer against chronic diseases that are most likely to kill us.
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If anyone doubts the demonstrative benefits of following a particular diet to boost longevity, they should look at heart disease.
Heart disease, a condition whereby your heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries, is a leading cause of death both in the UK and worldwide.
Despite its prevalence, the condition is largely preventable if you eat certain foods.
This is because certain foods have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, type of fatty tissue that clogs your arteries, causing heart disease.
Specific foods have also been shown to increase levels of HDL cholesterol, a type of healthy fat that picks up LDL cholesterol and takes it out back to the liver where it is flushed out of your body, reducing your risk of heart disease in the process.
One heart-healthy snack shown to lower your risk of heart disease is macadamia nuts, a popular tree nut.
Various studies suggest that eating 0.3–1.5 ounces (eight to 42 grams) of these nuts daily can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent.
Bolstering these findings, a small study in people with high cholesterol noted that a diet rich in macadamia nuts reduced levels of this blood marker as much as a heart-healthy, low-fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association.
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What’s more, eating 1.5–3 ounces (42–84 grams) of macadamia nuts each day may significantly reduce markers of inflammation, such as leukotriene B4, notes research.
Inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease.
The benefits eating macadamia nuts have on longevity do not stop there.
Research also suggests that eating macadamia nuts may reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors, including high blood sugar and cholesterol levels, that raise your risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
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For instance, one review linked diets rich in tree nuts, including macadamia nuts, to reductions in fasting blood sugar levels, a measure of how healthy a diabetic person’s blood sugar levels are.
The diets included in this review had people eat one to three ounces (28–84 grams) of tree nuts per day.
They experienced significantly improved levels of hemoglobin A1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar control.
Why is blood sugar control so important? If you have consistently high blood sugar levels, this can damage the blood vessels that transport blood to your heart and brain, raising your risk of both heart disease and stroke.
What’s more, eating macadamia nuts has been shown to aid weight, a major factor in determining a person’s longevity.
In one three-week study, 71 young Japanese women ate bread daily with either 10 grams of macadamia nuts, coconut, or butter.
Those in the macadamia group lost 0.9 pounds (0.4 kg) by the end of the study, while those in the other groups remained at the same weight.
Animal studies also echo this finding. In one 12-week study, obese mice fed high-fat diets with large amounts of macadamia oil — rich in palmitoleic acid — had significantly smaller fat cells than those given none of this product.
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