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Nuttiness

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Twenty grams of nuts a day–that’s it? That’s about 40 peanuts or 15 almonds or a little more than an airline package of nuts. I was surprised that the benefit of eating nuts 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 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. It looks like I get to measure out 20 grams of nuts every morning for my oatmeal!

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

I’m afraid this isolation doesn’t help the peanut. Nuts, excluding the peanut, were 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 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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Written by Crissman Loomis

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