Nightly News   |  November 20, 2013

An ounce of nuts a day keeps illness away, Harvard study says

It doesn’t matter what kind of nuts you eat – the health benefits can be life-saving, according to a large study from researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard. Just one ounce a day seven times a week were 20 percent less likely to die from a variety of causes such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory illness. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>>> as we said, there is health news tonight having to do with a portable food group a lot of people already eat in some form every day. the news is the benefits from them and how many areas of personal health can benefit from them. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: while they may not be a fountain of youth , the research from the new england journal of medicine suggests a handful of nuts every day could be a lifesaver.

>> the evidence suggests if one chooses nuts over other alternative foods there is potentially a 20% improvement in mortality which is quite striking and a real benefit.

>> reporter: researchers at dana farber , harvard and brig ham and women hospital looked over 130 years. they found the more often they ate nut it is lower the death rates. people who ate one ounce of nuts seven times a week were 20% less likely to die from heart disease , stroke, kidney disease and infection. it doesn't matter what kind of nuts. peanuts, pistachios, pecans, walnuts, you name it, all seem to have a positive impact on health . dr. oz has said for years it's the best single food you can eat.

>> vitamins, nutrients, healthy fats, all of it in this one little product that happens to give rise to a tree. it makes sense if we put it in our bodies we reap the benefits as well.

>> reporter: the research was paid for by the national institutes of health and a grant from the the tree nut council which researchers say had no influence. nuts can be high in calories but people who eat them tend to be thin and healthy.

>> a handful of nuts every day will be health promoting. more than that you risk adding extra pounds.

>> reporter: researchers are examining the exact relationship between nuts and better health . they say an ounce a day goes a long way. tom costello, nbc news, washington.

>>> one more health -related item tonight. if you are among the millions who take aspirin every day in some form for heart health , new findings show the best time to take it is at night. heart attacks are more likely to happen in the morning hours. and this new research just presented at an american heart association conference suggests an aspirin added bedtime could most effectively cut that risk. we are