Keep cancer and heart disease at bay with this tasty treat?

Have you gone nuts yet?

I sure hope so.

If you're a regular Guide to Guide Health reader I don't have to tell you that I've been singing the praises of this health-food-in-a-hard-shell for years now. Nuts, no matter the kind, are one of the best snack foods around. They pack a powerful punch of nutrition that's good for you practically from head to toe.

Like, for example, snacking on walnuts may be able to drop a woman's diabetes risk by a hefty 24 percent, according to a recent report in the Journal of Nutrition. This echoed earlier research from Tufts University that found that trading in your whole-wheat breakfast muffin for nuts could help lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Nuts are a good-for-you whole-food snack that has already been associated with heart health, cancer prevention, and improved cognitive function.

And, as I shared with you way back in 2011, no less than 57 clinical trials have found that regularly chomping on walnuts might help protect us against heart disease: the results of one of those trials was even published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine!

Penn State researchers showed that snacking on walnuts could lower blood pressure in just six weeks, while improving how your body reacts to stress.

You're probably starting to see why I called nuts one of the best snack foods around. And that's why I wasn't at all surprised when nuts were in the news again recently not once, but twice.

Ward off prostate problems

New research from the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center has confirmed that walnuts could be a guy's best friend.

Over three years ago now I told you about a mouse study conducted at UC Davis that found that nuts may slow prostate tumor growth. Now a new study published in the journal Cancer Investigation is providing us with even more evidence that nuts could be a potent weapon in the war against prostate cancer.

Researchers injected immune-deficient mice with human prostate-cancer cells which typically would produce tumors in a large number of the mice within three to four weeks. But the scientists added a twist... they fed some of the mice a walnut-enriched diet. And sure enough the walnut-eating mice fared better than the non-walnut eaters.

Only three of the walnut eaters developed tumors compared to the other group's 14. And not only that, the walnut eaters who did get tumors had slower growing ones that were about a fourth of the size of the tumors in the other group.

(A previous study showed similar findings for breast cancer.)

According to the researchers it didn't take a boatload full of walnuts to produce these effects either. In fact, for humans about 2 ounces... or two modest handfuls ... of walnuts a day would be the equivalent.

But the good nut news doesn't stop there.

Beat back cancer and heart disease

In a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine, Spanish researchers were also singing the praises of these nutritional powerhouses... and for good reason. The longitudinal study--meaning the information was gathered over a long period of time--found that those who ate nuts more than three times week were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

And we're talking a HUGE drop in risk here... a 40 percent lower risk of dying from cancer and a 55 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

In addition, in the nut eater's group there were lower body mass indexes (BMIs), smaller waists, and fewer cases of diabetes and high blood pressure.

If you haven't gone nuts yet, well, clearly it's about time you got started. Replacing two snacks a day with a small handful of nuts could help you fight everything from diabetes to cancer.

I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a delicious deal.