Nuts aren’t just delicious—they help you live longer

Life savers.
Life savers.
Image: USDA/flickr
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A new study of 120,000 people shows that snacking on nuts can help you live longer. Consumption of about 10g a day, on average, was associated with cutting the risk of premature death by as much as 23%.

Nuts—which for the purposes of the study include peanuts, which are groundnuts or legumes—contain beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, antioxidants, and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Peanut butter consumption, however, was shown to have no benefits.)

The miraculous health benefits of various foods are a staple of the news media. But many—if not most—of those stories are based on poorly constructed, industry-funded studies. However, this new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, is different.

The research results are based on data from the Netherlands Cohort Study, which started collecting generic data about the lifestyles of people aged 55 to 69 back in 1986 and ran for a decade. Thus, the data lack the biases that plague many other studies. This new study shows that nut consumption is associated with a decrease in premature mortality across all diseases. In particular, the greatest impact was observed on cutting risks of neurogenerative diseases, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

The researchers took into account that nut consumers tended to be younger and lived healthier lifestyles, and the beneficial effects of peanut consumption still came through. But it is worth noting that the study’s sample was based only in the Netherlands, and further studies will be necessary to generalize the results for everybody else.