Peanuts may reduce the risk of heart disease-related deaths, according to research published Monday. The new study, carried out jointly by researchers from Vanderbilt University and the Shanghai Cancer Institute, confirms that people across all races and income groups share the same benefits from consumption of peanuts.
Researchers looked at the link between the amount of nuts a person consumed and the rates of death in the population under study, Science Daily reported. They paid particular attention to racially diverse and low-income populations, as previous studies on the effectiveness of the nuts were usually limited to white, upper-class subjects, which left researchers unsure whether other factors, such as exercise or healthcare access, were responsible for their health.
"We can now tell people that peanuts are just as good as more expensive tree nuts, and that the benefit isn't just for white, upper class people, it's for everybody," senior study author Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu, of the University of Vanderbilt, told Reuters.
The study collected information from over 70,000 Americans of European and African descent, who mostly belonged to the low-income group, and 130,000 Chinese. These people were presented with survey questions on how many grams of peanuts and other nuts they ate on average.
Chinese participants generally ate fewer nuts than Americans, and in both countries men ate more nuts than women. Average consumption ranged from 1.6 grams a day for Chinese women to 16.4 grams a day for white men in the southern U.S.
The study found that people who ate peanuts regularly across all three groups showed lower mortality and heart disease rates than those that didn’t. For Americans, the risk of dying from any cause was 21 percent lower for the group with the highest nut consumption, and for Chinese, it was 17 percent.
However, the researchers warned that because the study was based on data collected from questionnaires and not clinical trials, it is impossible to establish that peanuts are the specific cause of the lower mortality risk.
“The findings from this new study, however, reinforce earlier research suggesting health benefits from eating nuts, and thus are quite encouraging,” William Blot, co-author of the study, reportedly said.