Photo of a handful of nuts
A new study confirms a link between peanut and nut intake and lower mortality rates, but finds no protective effect for peanut butter.

Longer life for lovers of tree nuts and peanuts

11 June, 2015

Natural Health News — If you’re nuts about nuts – here’s some very good news.

New research confirms a link between tree nut and peanut consumption and lower mortality rates from a whole range of diseases.

Men and women who eat at least 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day have a lower risk of dying from several major causes of death than people who don’t consume nuts or peanuts.

The reduction in mortality was strongest for respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease, and diabetes, followed by cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The effects were equal in men and women. Peanuts show at least as strong reductions in mortality as tree nuts, but peanut butter is not associated with lower mortality, researchers from Maastricht University found.

What you need to know

»A large new study has found that regular consumption of tree nuts and peanuts can prevent early death from a variety of diseases.

» Rates of heart disease but also cancer, diabetes, respiratory, and neurodegenerative diseases was lowered among those eating peanuts and nuts.

» Peanute butter, possibly because of its unhealthy additives did not have the same protective effect.

This study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was part of a long running research project among over 120,000 Dutch 55-69 year old men and women. Nut consumption was assessed by asking about portion size and frequency of intake of peanuts, other nuts (tree nuts), and peanut butter. This was then compared with overall as well as cause-specific deaths since 1986.

Not just heart healthy

The associations between nuts and peanut intake and cardiovascular death confirm earlier results from American and Asian studies that were often focused on cardiovascular diseases.

But this new study found that early death due to cancer, diabetes, respiratory, and neurodegenerative diseases was also lowered among users of peanuts and nuts.

Project leader and epidemiologist Professor Piet van den Brandt commented: “It was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15 grams of nuts or peanuts on average per day (about half a handful). A higher intake was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk. This was also supported by a meta-analysis of previously published studies together with the Netherlands Cohort Study, in which cancer and respiratory mortality showed this same dose-response pattern.”

Nutty nutrition

Peanuts and tree nuts both contain various compounds such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, various vitamins, fibre, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds, that possibly contribute to the lower death rates.

In contrast to peanuts, no association was found between peanut butter intake and mortality risk. But that could be down to the quality of the peanut butter tested. Besides peanuts, many – but not all – peanut butters contains also added components like salt and vegetable oils. In the past, it has been shown that peanut butter contains trans fatty acids and therefore the composition of peanut butter is different from peanuts. The adverse health effects of salt and trans fatty acids could inhibit the protective effects of peanuts.

Other studies have found a breast-protective effect of peanut-butter consumption during pre-adolescence. So if you love peanut butter – it may be of benefit to make sure it’s only ingredient is peanuts.