It doesn't seem to matter what type of nuts you eat: similar protective effects were seen with hazel nuts, walnuts and peanuts. What mattered was the amount, and people need to be eating at least 20g a day, and that's equivalent to a handful, say researchers from Imperial College London.
People who eat more than that don't seem to reduce their risk further.
The nuts reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 30 per cent, cancer by 15 per cent, and the chances of premature death from any cause by 22 per cent. They also halve the chances of dying from respiratory disease, and reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 40 per cent.
The researchers took a second look at 29 previously-published studies that had involved up to 819,000 people. Although there were some variations in health between people and the regions they lived in, the researchers found a consistent protective effect of eating nuts.
"Nuts and peanuts are high in fibre, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats, and they are nutrients that are beneficial for cutting cardiovascular disease risk," said lead researcher Dagfinn Aune. Walnuts and pecan nuts are also rich in antioxidants.