Maybe you should grab a handful of peanuts before you read this. A large study has found that eating peanuts and other types of nuts appears to be associated with a decrease in deaths due to cardiovascular disease and to deaths from all causes. This association was found in men and women, and in blacks, whites, and Asians.
Previous studies have found a link between eating peanuts and tree nuts and lower mortality, but they were almost all conducted in people who were of European origin and who were middle or upper class in economic status. This study used three large low-socioeconomic groups, one group of Americans of both African and European descent and two groups in Shanghai, China. More than 200,000 people were included in this study and were followed for as long as 12 years. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The people in the study answered questionnaires on how often they ate tree nuts and peanuts. The American group ate both tree nuts and peanuts (peanuts are actually a legume and not a nut), but about half were eating peanuts. The Chinese groups reported only on peanuts. The participants were then divided into five groups based on how often they ate peanuts and nuts.
The study found the Americans in the one-fifth that ate the most nuts and peanuts had a 21% lower risk of death than those who were in the lowest group. The Chinese in the highest fifth of peanut consumption had a 17% lower risk than those in the lowest fifth. The study took more than two dozen health factors and behaviors into account when evaluating this risk.
There was a similar association found for heart attacks in all ethnicities. An association of eating peanuts with a lower risk for stroke was found to be significant only in Asians.
"Consumption of nuts, particularly peanuts given their general affordability, may be considered a cost-effective measure to improve cardiovascular health," the researchers concluded.
Pass the peanuts, please.