Nuttiness

Twenty grams of nuts a day–that’s it? That’s about 40 peanuts or 15 almonds. I was surprised that the benefit of eating nuts apparently caps out at about a small handful per day. I spent a year as a vegan, and I remember eating a lot more than a small handful of nuts during that time, as I looked for replacements for the animal products I had been eating before. My first question for my nut research was whether I could bulk up the small handfuls over a week, and get the same benefit by eating 140 grams of nuts on the weekend. Unfortunately, the answer is nope. Over 3 million years of people follow-ups, they found that people eating nuts over five times a week reduced their all-cause mortality by over twice that of people who ate nuts just once a week.1

Oh well. Looks like I get to measure out 20 gram of nuts every morning for my oatmeal!

Another question I had was whether there are nuts that are better or worse than the other ones. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s enough data between people eating different kinds of nuts to see health differences, with the exception of one nut that is not a nut–the peanut. It actually is more like a pea, being a hardened legume or bean. Because of this distinction, or perhaps because it’s the most popular nut despite not being one, there are studies that separate out peanuts and peanut butter from all other nuts.

I’m afraid this isolation doesn’t help the peanut. Nuts, excluding the peanut, were found to be nearly twice as healthy in regards to all-cause mortality as peanuts, and peanut butter was even a little less healthy than peanuts. Although close, the difference in health benefits between nuts and peanuts or peanut butter didn’t reach statistical significance.2

For optimal longevity, eat with 20 grams of non-peanuts nuts, every day.

  1. Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality | NEJM
  2. Prospective Evaluation of the Association of Nut/Peanut Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
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