Regular consumption of peanuts is associated with decreased death rates — in particular via heart disease — amongst low-income, but racially diverse, populations, new research has found.
“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,” commented lead author Hung Luu, PhS, a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Epidemiology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Much previous research has linked nut consumption with lower mortality, but this is the first to focus on racially varied, low-income populations — rather than upper class white populations. And the findings are clear, the health benefits of peanut consumption are present across all racial and economic identifications.
“In our study, we found that peanut consumption was associated with reduced total mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality in a predominantly low-income black and white population in the US, and among Chinese men and women living in Shanghai,” Shu stated.
The findings are the result of 3 currently ongoing cohort studies — with participants including over 70,000 Americans of African and European descent from the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), who are mostly low-income; as well as over 130,000 Chinese from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS) and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study (SMHS).
A recent press release on the new study provides further details:
Information on nut consumption was collected by structured questionnaires at the baseline survey. For participants in the SCCS, deaths were determined by linking with the National Death Index and Social Security Administration mortality files, and for participants in the SWHS/SMHS, by linking with the Shanghai Vital Statistics Registry and by conducting home visits. In total, 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.
Peanut consumption was associated with decreased total mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality (ie, 17-21% reduction in total mortality, and 23-38% reduction in cardiovascular mortality for the highest quartile intake group compared to the lowest quartile group) across all three racial/ethnic groups, among both men and women, and among individuals from low-SES groups.
Shu notes that as peanuts are relatively inexpensive, compared to other other ‘nuts’ (peanuts are actually a legume, not a nut), that they are available to people of all economic situations — rather than simply the mid to upper classes, as with many other nuts.
“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 William Blot, PhD, associate director for Cancer Prevention, Control and Population-based Research at VICC and a co-author of the study.
Blot continued though, noting that “the findings from this new study, however, reinforce earlier research suggesting health benefits from eating nuts, and thus are quite encouraging.”
(For more information on peanuts, see: Peanuts — Health Benefits, Information, Nutrition, Cultivation, & Risks)
The new findings are detailed in a paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
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