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Nuts, Including Peanut Butter, May Improve Longevity

Hints, but doesn't prove, they might reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease, other causes

MONDAY, March 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Eating nuts, including peanuts and peanut butter, may increase longevity, new research suggests. The study is published online March 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine and was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Xiao-Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of global health and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues looked at the diets of 206,029 people in both the United States and China, and found nut consumption was linked with a lower risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease and other causes. The researchers followed the men and women for various time periods, ranging from a median of 5.4 years to more than 12.2 years. Shu's team asked men and women about their intake of nuts, including peanuts and peanut butter.

The group who ate the most nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter reduced their risk of early death from cardiovascular disease and all other causes by about 20 percent, compared to the group eating the least, Shu told HealthDay. The researchers found no apparent association between nut intake and death from cancer and diabetes.

How many peanuts should one eat, exactly? The U.S. group in the top 20 percent of peanut consumption ate more than 18 grams a day, or about 0.63 ounces -- roughly 2 tablespoons of shelled peanuts, Shu said. Peanut butter will work as well as peanuts and other nuts, Shu added. What's behind the benefit? "Nuts are rich in nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, phenolic antioxidants, arginine, and other phytochemicals," Shu said.

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