Eating peanuts may lower your risk of dying from a heart attack, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University in US and Shanghai Cancer Institute in China examined the association of peanut and nut consumption with mortality among low-income and racially diverse populations and found that intake of peanuts was associated with fewer deaths, especially from heart disease.
“Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fibre, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine and other phytochemicals,” said senior author Xiao-Ou Shu, associate director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Centre (VICC).
“All of them are known to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, probably through their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and endothelial function maintenance properties,” Shu said.
While research has previously linked nut consumption with lower mortality, those studies focused mainly on higher-income, white populations.
The new study was the first to discover that all races - blacks, whites and Asians alike - could potentially increase heart health by eating nuts and peanuts.
“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 said.
Participants included more than 70,000 Americans of African and European descent from the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS), who were mostly low-income, and more than 130,000 Chinese from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study (SWHS) and the Shanghai Men’s Health Study (SMHS).
Peanut consumption was associated with decreased total mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality (ie, 17-21 per cent reduction in total mortality, and 23-38 per cent 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.
Because peanuts are much less expensive than tree nuts, as well as more widely available to people of all races and all socioeconomic backgrounds, increasing peanut consumption may provide a potentially cost-efficient approach to improving cardiovascular health, Shu said.
“The data arise from observational epidemiologic studies, and not randomised clinical trials, and thus we cannot be sure that peanuts per se were responsible for the reduced mortality observed,” said William Blot, associate director for Cancer Prevention, Control and Population-based Research at VICC and a co-author of the study.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.