Nut lovers will appreciate the newest research published in JAMA this month. After evaluating three large groups consisting of more than 200,000 U.S. and Chinese consumers 40 to 79 years old—with more than 75 percent either overweight or obese, and more than 76 percent had metabolic conditions such as hypertension (55 percent), diabetes (21 percent) and high cholesterol (34 percent)—researchers concluded nuts, particularly peanuts, decreased total deaths by 21 percent and reduced cardiovascular deaths by 38 percent (March 2, 2015).
Peanuts were the primary nuts consumed in the study. They comprised more than 50 percent of the nuts eaten by one of the groups, and in the other two groups (based in Shanghai), only peanut consumption was assessed. Participants recorded in all three groups how frequently they ate the peanuts, nuts or peanut butter.
"Increasing peanut consumption may provide a potentially cost-efficient approach to improving cardiovascular health," said senior author Xio-Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., associate director for Global Health at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and professor of Medicine in the Department of Epidemiology.
What’s unique about this study is it’s the first study to show that all races—black, white and Asian—who are predominantly from lower socioeconomic, high-risk groups could benefit from eating peanuts and peanut butter. Other major studies that have linked peanut and nut consumption with lower mortality focused mainly on higher income, white populations. The link between peanuts and decreased mortality was seen across all ethnicities, for men and women, income status and even for individuals with a high prevalence of metabolic disorders.
The verdict: “Nut consumption was associated with decreased overall and cardiovascular disease mortality across different ethnic groups and among individuals from low socioeconomic status groups. Consumption of nuts, particularly peanuts given their general affordability, may be considered a cost-effective measure to improve cardiovascular health."
Nuts are trending in the snack category and they're popping up in all kinds of food applications, not to mention its mainstay status as a spread, i.e., peanut butter, and now almond butter, cashew butter and more. Consumers love the convenience and healthy halo of nuts. And this study gives them one more reason to say yes to nuts.