Researchers found cardiovascular health benefits associated with eating peanuts. (Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT)
Researchers found cardiovascular health benefits associated with eating peanuts. (Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee/MCT)

A handful of peanuts a day keeps the doctor away, or so researchers at Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute found.

Researchers examined the association of eating peanuts and nuts with the mortality among low-income and racially diverse populations. They discovered that the intake of peanuts was associated with fewer deaths, especially from heart disease.

Nuts are rich in nutrients and unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants and the amino acid arginine.

“All of them are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, probably through their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and endothelial function maintenance properties,” said Xiao-Ou Shu, senior author of the study.

Previous research in nut consumption linked it with lower mortality. However, those studies focused on higher-income, white populations. This study discovered that all races could potentially increase heart health by eating nuts and peanuts.

The study included more than 70,000 Americans of African and European descent from the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), who were mostly low-income, as well as more than 130,000 Chinese from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS) and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study (SMHS.)

The information on nut consumption was collected by structured questionnaires at the baseline survey. More than 14,000 deaths were identified, with a median follow-up of 5.4 years in the SCCS, 6.5 years in the SMHS, and 12.2 years in the SWHS.

The total mortality rate was reduced by 17 to 21 percent, and a 23 to 38 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality was associated with peanut consumption.

Peanuts are less expensive than other nuts and are more widely available to people of all races and economic backgrounds. Eating peanuts is a cost efficient way to improve cardiovascular health.

Although the data comes from observational epidemiological studies rather than randomized clinical trials, researchers say that the findings of this study reinforce earlier researcher that suggests eating nuts has health benefits.

The American Heart Association recommends eating four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week.

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