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Tree Nuts and Peanuts—Not Peanut Butter—Can Help You Live Longer

New research shows that half a handful of nuts a day can lower your risk of dying from the major causes of death.

Turns out you can tack on “Helps you live longer” to our list of the unique health benefits of eight different nuts, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. 

In the study, carried out within the Netherlands Cohort Study—which has been running since 1986 among 120,000+ Dutch men and women ages 55 to 69—participants who consumed at least 10 grams of tree nuts or peanuts every day had a lower risk of dying from respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 

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But before you start plunging a tablespoon into a jar of peanut butter, note that processed peanut products are not associated with a reduction in mortality rate. According to the study, it’s highly likely that the added salt and vegetable oils in peanut butter inhibits the protective effects of peanuts.

Don't go nuts on the peanuts either though—it's unnecessary (and caloric.) “A higher intake was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk,” project leader and epidemiologist Professor Piet van den Brandt says. All you need is a handful of peanuts or tree nut varieties like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc. a day. Though researchers haven't nailed down the specifics, they believe compounds such as monounsaturated and polysaturated fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and other bioactive compounds in the nuts contribute to lower death rates. 

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