A new Dutch study suggests that eating half a handful of nuts a day can reduce the likelihood of dying from diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
However, peanut butter was not found to have any health benefits due to the salt and trans fatty acids included. These could inhibit the protective effects of protein.
Researchers at Maastricht University conducted a meta-analysis of previously published studies alongside the Netherlands Cohort Study. The latter involved more than 120,000 Dutch men and women between the ages of 55 to 69 and has been running since 1986.
The nut consumption of participants was assessed through questions of intake of peanuts, peanut butter and other nuts, as well as portion size. This relationship was then analysed with overall and cause-specific mortality since 1986.
The research team found that death from diabetes, cancer, respiratory and neurodegenerative disease was lower among men and women eating around 10g of nuts of peanuts a day. These diseases had the strongest mortality reductions, followed by cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Epidemiologist and lead author Professor Piet van den Brandt concluded this reduction in death rate is due to compounds in nuts such as antioxidants, fibre, various vitamins as well as monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
However, “a higher intake than a handful was not associated with a further reduction in mortality risk,” van der Brandt added.
Among the other findings of the study included women who ate nuts were likely to be leaner, and less likely to report diabetes, while regular nut-eaters tended to be younger and eat more fruit and vegetables.
The findings of this study were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

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