11 Jun 2015

Peanuts lengthen your life? You’d be nuts to believe it

Research published today claims that eating half a handful of nuts can reduce your risk of dying in the next decade by 23 per cent.

And you’d be nuts to believe it.


Here’s a few reasons why:

The research suggests eating as little as 2.5 grams of nuts each day (that’s about 1 nut) makes you less likely to die, and the effect gets stronger until you eat 15 g – about half a handful. But eating more nuts than that does not further decrease your risk of dying.

Nuts contain all sorts of healthy things like vitamins, anti-oxidants and fatty acids.

But if there was some magical life-extending nutrient exclusive to nuts, you might expect to see the life-preserving effect grow as you eat a little bit more than half a handful. In this study, it didn’t.

The scientists also found that people who ate more nuts  – and we’re talking about raw nuts here, not dry roasted, honey-coated, or salted types – were different to others.

They tended not to smoke, were younger, ate more vegetables, had lower blood pressure, and in the case of women, were slimmer.

While the researchers claim to have controlled for these effects, the power of statistics cannot remove every potential bias.

For example, were more of the nut eaters vegetarians? Diets low in meat and high in fruit and veg are known to be protective against some cancers and heart disease.

“This paper shows peanuts to be more likely another nutritional marker of a more healthful diet, not that peanuts prevent us from dying prematurely,” said Catherine Collins, a dietician at St Georges Hospital NHS Trust.

So, in a nutshell, when you die is dictated by everything you eat… and a whole load of other risks over which you have no control.

Click here for the NHS Atlas of Risk in full



Click here for the NHS Atlas of Risk in full.


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4 reader comments

  1. Oppen says:

    A peanut is not a nut, it Is a pea.

  2. Bob Ross says:

    Except if you have a peanut allergy…

  3. anon says:

    years ago there was an ad for peanuts extolling them as being full of protein. More recently well 2004? there was a two hour Horizon programme suggesting why the Atkins diet might work. the last five minutes of the programme containing perhaps the kernel of the argument, isn’t it always the same! Horizon (I think) suggested that the protein in foods advocated by Atkins suppressed appetite. So anything with higher protein levels can help people lose weight and this might help with life expectancy. Eggs can help with this but I think? are high cholesterol level so this maybe has to be watched?

    also perhaps neurologically fats can make you happier and that might help with life expectancy? But who knows, what happened to the scare story also a few years back about the fungus and the peanuts, and us?

    re foods generally I always think its pretty amazing that people often seem to complain how little food they have to eat without putting on weight but this is really a blessing for the World? would we prefer to be like some creatures who have to graze endlessly as their ‘food’ contains so little nutrients? food for thought I guess

  4. Gavin R Putland says:

    Nuts prevent cancer? In the case of bowel/colorectal cancer, the surest way to prevent it is to have a colonoscopy, during which pre-cancerous “polyps” are removed (if you’re quick). – @grputland

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