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Eating Groundnuts Makes People Live Longer 

By Lerah Leke Fonge — A Harvard University study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on November 21, says that people who eat nuts like groundnuts have a lower risk of death compared to people who never eat them. The study says people who ate nuts seven or more times a week were 20 percent less likely to die than those who never ate nuts during a 30-year study.

People who eat nuts have all sorts of biological benefits like less inflammation, which is linked to heart disease and cancer, less fat packed around the internal organs; better blood sugar levels; lower blood pressure and even fewer gallstones. The benefits were seen from groundnuts or peanuts as well as from pistachios, almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts. Regular nut eaters were less likely to die of cancer or heart disease; in fact, were less likely to die of any cause during the 30-year Harvard study.

Nuts have long been called heart-healthy, and the study is the largest ever done on whether eating them affects mortality. The new research combines two studies that started in the 1980s on 76,464 female nurses and 42,498 male health professionals. They filled out surveys on food and lifestyle habits every two to four years, including how often they ate nuts.

Study participants who often ate nuts were healthier and weighed less, exercised more and were less likely to smoke, among other things. After taking these and other things into account, researchers still saw a strong benefit from nuts. Compared with people who never ate nuts, those who had them less than once a week reduced their risk of death by seven percent; once a week, 11 percent; two to four times a week, 13 percent; and seven or more times a week, 20 percent.

The risk of dying of heart disease dropped 29 percent and the risk of dying of cancer fell 11 percent among those who had nuts seven or more times a week compared with people who never ate them. There is a general perception that if you eat more nuts you are going to get fat, but the Harvard research disproves that argument.

Researchers don’t know why nuts may boost health. It could be that their unsaturated fatty acids, minerals and other nutrients lower cholesterol and inflammation and reduce other problems, as earlier studies seemed to show. The Harvard group has long been known for solid science on diets. Its findings built on a major study earlier this year a rigorous experiment that found a Mediterranean-style diet supplemented with nuts cuts the chance of heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.

Many previous studies tie nut consumption to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and other maladies. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration said a fistful of nuts a day as part of a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of heart disease. The heart association recommends four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week and warns against eating too many, since they are dense in calories.

First published in The Post print edition no 01483


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