When Tony Soprano’s loyal enforcer Paulie “Walnuts” did a job for his boss, you could bet someone’s health was going to take a turn for the worse. In real life, there’s nothing about walnuts that threatens your wellbeing. In fact, according to a new Harvard study, eating walnuts a few times a week can help you live longer and healthier.

The study, published in Nutrients, looked at data on 100,000 people, average age 63, and found that, compared with folks who never eat walnuts, enjoying 5 or more ounces weekly appears to lower your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 25% and extend your life by one and a half years. Eating 2 to 4 ounces weekly may reduce the risk by 14%, and you’ll add around one year to your life. And for folks with the poorest level of nutrition, eating a half an ounce of walnuts a day slashes their risk of cardiovascular disease by 26%.

What’s in walnuts that makes you live longer and healthier? It’s probably the blend of healthy fats and nutrients: One ounce contains 4 grams of protein; 2 grams fiber; 45 milligrams magnesium; 2.5 milligrams of the omega-3 called ALA, which promotes absorption of nutrients, fights inflammation, lowers LDL cholesterol, and stabilizes glucose levels; and other poly/monounsaturated fats.

So enjoy walnuts — but don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll make up for a saturated-fat dense, ultraprocessed diet! Their real power shines through when they’re part of a plant-based diet, free from red meats, added sugars and refined carbs.

Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Roizen is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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