When it comes to snacking, what you reach for matters. Yes, we all know there are healthier options than others. A bag of chips every day at 3 p.m. will start to add up, but carrots don’t always sound as appealing – we’ll admit. Instead of constantly playing the “eat this, not that” battle with yourself when the in-between-meals hunger creeps up, a new study finds you may have a good go-to that will also help you live longer. A handful of nuts – any kind – can help reduce your chance of dying from any cause, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A 1.5-ounce serving of nuts was found to reduce the chance dying from any cause by 20 percent during the 30-year study period for those who ate nuts every day versus those who did not. Nearly 120,000 people in the U.S. were included in the study. Participants provided information about their diet and lifestyle from 1980 to 2010. Every two to four years, participants filled out a detailed diet survey, including how often they ate nuts. 

The nut group was more likely to exercise, eat fruits and vegetables and take a multivitamin. This group, researchers noted, were less likely to smoke and had leaner bodies than the non-nut group, with average BMIs of 24.9 and 26.0, respectively.

Researchers are not sure what it is about nuts that help reduce the risk heart disease and cancer or boost longevity, but they hypothesize the secret could be in the metabolic qualities that lead to weight loss.

Instead of heading to the vending machine when hunger strikes, reach for that bag of almonds, walnuts or peanuts you have in your desk for just such an occasion.

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