So despite being high in fat and calories, nuts appear to have all sorts of health benefits. It's almost as if fat and calories aren't the end-all of health and weight management.

Those who ate a handful of nuts each day, approximately the recommended 1.5-ounce serving, had a 20 percent lower chance of dying from any cause during a 30-year period, compared with those who did not eat nuts every day. Additionally, the researchers saw a 29 percent reduction in the number of deaths that resulted from heart disease - the leading cause of death in the United States - and an 11 percent reduction in the risk of dying from cancer.

"Somebody might read our study and say that's fine, but if we start encouraging nut consumption, that might lead to a greater chance of obesity, which is a major problem in the United States," said Charles Fuchs, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Treatment Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and a senior author of the report. "But interesting, what we find is that regular nut consumers are actually lighter. There's less obesity in that group."

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