Harvard Women's Health Watch

Eating peanuts may extend your life

Health studies rarely involve people on opposite sides of the globe who have very different lifestyles. However, researchers at Vanderbilt Medical School took that approach when they pooled data from dietary studies of 72,000 men and women in the southeastern United States and 135,000 people in Shanghai, China. It turns out that the Americans and Chinese have something in common—they both eat a lot of peanuts—and they may be living longer as a result.

All of the participants filled out detailed questionnaires on the foods they ate regularly. The research team noted that peanuts accounted for 50% of nuts eaten by Americans and almost all the nuts consumed by the Chinese.

The team followed the participants from five to 12 years, during which 6,256 Americans and 8,144 Chinese died. They found that the Americans who ate the most nuts, which were predominantly peanuts, had a 21% lower risk of dying than those who ate the least. The Chinese men and women with the highest peanut consumption had a 17% lower mortality risk. Their report was published online March 2, 2015, by JAMA Internal Medicine.

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