Previous research has hailed peanuts and nuts for their health benefits. Now, a new study supports such research, finding that consuming these foods may protect against death from numerous diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

A handful of nutsShare on Pinterest
Researchers found that eating 15 grams of nuts each day may lower death risk from a number of diseases, including cancer, respiratory disease and diabetes.

Conducted by Prof. Piet van den Brandt and colleagues, from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, the study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Peanuts and nuts are a good source of omega-3, fiber, vitamin E, antioxidants and “good” fats. As such, they have been associated with a number of health benefits, particularly for the heart.

Past studies have linked nut consumption to reduced risk of blood clots, lower cholesterol and reduced risk of arrhythmia. But their benefits do not stop there. In March, Medical News Today reported on a study linking nut consumption to a 20% reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

In this latest study, Prof. Brandt and colleagues found that consuming peanuts – which are actually legumes – and nuts (tree nuts) may reduce the risk of dying from a number of diseases, with the association stronger for some diseases than others.

To reach their findings, the researchers assessed data from more than 120,000 men and women aged 55-69 from the Netherlands, who were part of the Netherlands Cohort Study.

All participants were asked how often they consumed peanuts, nuts and peanut butter and in what quantities. They then assessed the link between intake of these foods and cause-specific mortality among participants since 1986, when the study began.

The study results revealed that participants who consumed around 15 grams of nuts or peanuts every day – the equivalent to half a handful – were at lower risk of death from numerous diseases, including cancer, diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease and neurodegenerative disease, compared with participants who did not consume nuts or peanuts.

Reductions in mortality with peanut and nut consumption was strongest for respiratory and neurodegenerative disease, and the results were equal between men and women.

Peanut butter consumption was found to have no effect on mortality among participants. The team says this could be because peanut butter contains salt, vegetable oil and trans fatty acids, which may counteract the healthy benefits of peanuts.

The researchers also found that eating more than 15 grams of nuts daily did not lead to a further reduction in mortality risk among participants. This finding is in line with many previous studies investigating nut consumption, according to the team, which have found cancer and respiratory mortality does not reduce with increasing nut intake.

Numerous studies have hailed the benefits of nuts consumed alongside a Mediterranean diet. Last month, MNT reported on research published in JAMA Internal Medicine finding that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra nuts or olive oil could protect cognitive functioning in older adults, while a study published in October 2014 suggested the same diet could reverse metabolic syndrome.