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Peanuts Can Make You Live Longer?

Mar 02, 2015 05:10 PM EST

(Photo : Sasajo / Fotolia)

Recent research has just revealed that feeding babies peanuts could halt the development of a food allergy, and now a new study indicates that these same nuts can make you live longer.

A team of scientists at Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute wanted to determine the relationship between peanut and nut consumption and mortality among low-income and racially diverse populations. What they found was that eating peanuts was associated with fewer deaths, especially from heart disease.

"Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine and other phytochemicals. All of them are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, probably through their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and endothelial function maintenance properties," Xiao-Ou Shu, one of the researchers, said in a statement.

This isn't the first study to explore the link between peanut consumption and lower mortality. However, those studies looked mainly at higher-income, white populations. This study, on the other hand, focused on low-income and racially diverse populations, including blacks, whites and Asians alike.

Participants included more than 70,000 Americans of African and European descent from the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), and more than 130,000 Chinese from the Shanghai Women's Health Study (SWHS) and the Shanghai Men's Health Study (SMHS).

At the end of the study period, more than 14,000 participants had died. But those who ate peanuts (which was determined from questionnaires) lowered their risk of death by 17-21 percent. And specifically, when it came to mortality due to heart disease, a taste for peanuts resulted in a 23-38 percent reduction in mortality.

"The data arise from observational epidemiologic studies, and not randomized clinical trials, and thus we cannot be sure that peanuts per se were responsible for the reduced mortality observed," noted co-author William Blot.

However, he added, "the findings from this new study, however, reinforce earlier research suggesting health benefits from eating nuts, and thus are quite encouraging."

The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week. A serving size is a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. And because peanuts are inexpensive and widely available, living a longer life might not be so far out of reach.

The results were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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