Nuts for Peanuts? You're in Luck

Peanut consumption tied to fewer deaths from heart disease and other causes

(RxWiki News) Bring on the peanut butter sandwiches. Peanuts may be good for your heart.

People who eat a lot of nuts, particularly peanuts, may live longer, new research suggests. Those who ate a lot of peanuts were less likely to die from any cause, particularly heart disease.

“This study gives us yet another reason to love peanuts," said Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist at the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, TX, in an interview with dailyRx News.

Dr. Samaan said these study findings didn't shock her.

“Other studies have linked peanuts to a lower risk for heart disease in women, as well as a lower risk for diabetes,” she said.

Even eating a small amount of peanuts regularly was enough to bring about the benefits of living longer and having a healthier heart, the authors of this study found.

“We found consistent evidence that high nut/peanut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of total mortality and [heart disease] mortality," wrote lead study author Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, and colleagues. "This inverse association was observed among both men and women and across each racial/ethnic group ..."

Dr. Shu and team studied nearly 72,000 patients in the southeastern US and more than 134,000 Chinese men and women living in Shanghai, China. These patients were all asked about what foods they ate, how often and how much.

These researchers then looked at death records and causes of death. Peanut consumers were less likely to have died. They were particularly less likely to die from heart disease, especially ischemic heart disease. Ischemic heart disease is when fatty deposits build up along arteries that bring blood to the heart, which may eventually block blood flow to the heart.

Americans who ate the most peanuts were 21 percent less likely to have died — compared to people who did not eat any peanuts. Among the Chinese patients, those who at the most peanuts were 17 percent less likely to have died than people who did not eat peanuts.

Dr. Shu told dailyRx News that nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids and fiber — which are known to be good for heart health.

“In our study, the average nut/peanut/peanut butter intake that was significantly associated with reduced total and [heart disease] mortality was 18.45 grams/day for US participants,” Dr. Shu said.

Eighteen grams is equal to 0.6 ounces.

Dr. Samaan said patients can enjoy peanuts in a variety of forms.

“Peanut butter is a great way to enjoy peanuts, fairly inexpensive, and easy to store,” Dr. Samaan said. “It's best to avoid the more processed products, which are often pumped up with extra oils and sugars. Choose the natural-style peanut butter instead.”

Peanuts are also cheap and easy to find, noted Mitchell H. Katz, MD, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, in an editorial about this study.

“Of course, peanuts are not really nuts (they are legumes, since they grow in bushes, unlike tree nuts), but who cares if they help us live longer at an affordable price,” Dr. Katz wrote.

The study and editorial were published March 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Grants from the National Cancer Institute funded this research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
February 28, 2015