Consumption of nuts and seeds and telomere length in 5,582 men and women of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
Consumption of nuts and seeds is associated favorably with all-cause mortality. Nuts and seeds could reduce disease and prolong life by influencing telomeres. Telomere length is a good indicator of the senescence of cells. The purpose of the present study was to determine the relationship between nuts and seeds intake and leukocyte telomere length, a biomarker of biologic aging.
Setting and Participants
A total of 5,582 randomly selected men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2002, were studied.
DNA was obtained via blood samples. Telomere length was assessed using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. A validated, multi-pass, 24-h recall dietary assessment, administered by NHANES, was employed to quantify consumption of nuts and seeds.
Nuts and seeds intake was positively and linearly associated with telomere length. For each 1-percent of total energy derived from nuts and seeds, telomere length was 5 base pairs longer (F=8.6, P=0.0065). Given the age-related rate of telomere shortening was 15.4 base pairs per year (F=581.1, P<0.0001), adults of the same age had more than 1.5 years of reduced cell aging if they consumed 5% of their total energy from nuts and seeds.
Consumption of nuts and seeds accounts for meaningful decreases in biologic aging and cell senescence. The findings reinforce the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which encourage the consumption of nuts and seeds as part of a healthy diet.