A nutty idea for good health

Want to live longer? Go nuts!

You won't find many snacks that have as many of health benefits. You can add them to salads, use them to spruce up your meals or just eat them right out of the sack.

There's no wrong way to enjoy nuts, and if you snack on them regularly you can slash your risk of major disease and even death by up to 20 percent, according to the latest research on the health benefits of nuts.

Just one ounce a week -- a handful of nuts and no more -- will cause your risk of death to drop by 7 percent.

That's a small number... but remember, we're only talking about a handful of nuts once a week.

Eat them more often, and your risk will fall even further. And if you're so nuts for nuts that you eat an ounce a day, your risk of a premature death could plunge by 20 percent, according to the Harvard University study.

Believe it or not, that's not the end of the health benefits of nuts. In fact, we've only just cracked the shell on this new study -- because while nuts are packed with calories, the study finds that eating them can actually help you lose weight and stay thin.

It's almost certainly because nuts are filling and satisfying -- and if you eat more nuts, you won't be tempted to snack on junk all day.

Nuts are also loaded with fats, but they're good fats -- heart-friendly unsaturated fats. Eat them daily, and you'll see your risk of death from heart disease drop by 29 percent.

Nuts can even protect against cancer, reducing your risk of death from the disease by 11 percent, according to the study of more than 119,000 men and women tracked for up to 30 years.

So go ahead and enjoy some almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts and more. With so many benefits, you'd have to be nuts yourself not to eat them more often.