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Death-defying nuts strike again

New research adds peanuts to a list of other nuts found to reduce certain mortality risks among people who eat them daily.

Eat nuts, live longer. But eat peanut butter and you’re out of luck.

New research suggests that just like tree nuts, peanut consumption is linked to a lower mortality rate. People who eat at least 10 grams of nuts or peanuts per day have a lower risk of dying from several major causes of death than people who don’t eat nuts, according to the study. No protective effect was shown for peanut butter, however.

Researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands analyzed information from the Netherlands Cohort Study--research running since 1986 among 120,000 Dutch 55- to 69 year-old men and women. The reduction in mortality among nut eaters was strongest for respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease and diabetes, followed by cancer and cardiovascular disease. The International Journal of Epidemiology published their work.

"It was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15 grams of nuts or peanuts on average per day (half a handful),” project leader and epidemiologist Professor Piet van den Brandt said in a university release. Higher nut intake than that, however, was not associated with a further reduction in mortality.

What gives nuts their death-defying power? The researchers are not sure; however, they note that peanuts and tree nuts contain various compounds such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that might contribute to lower death rates. They believe the not-so-healthy effects of salt and trans fats in peanut butter could be what squashes the potentially life-affirming peanutty prowess of peanut butter.

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