Why nuts could save your life
A new study has found that eating just 15g of nuts or peanuts a day can reduce a person's risk of dying from a number of major diseases. This includes diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or strokes. A handful of nuts can also lower the risk of fatalities from respiratory disease including asthma and emphysema, as well as dementia, which is a neurodegenerative disease.
"It was remarkable that substantially lower mortality was already observed at consumption levels of 15g of nuts or peanuts on average per day, half a handful," said Professor Piet van den Brandt, from Maastricht University, who led the research. "A higher intake was not associated with further reduction in mortality risk."
The study didn't find that either sex benefited more than the other by having a nutty treat. And while the health benefits of different kinds of nuts have often been debated, this new research found that there was no difference in a person eating peanuts compared to tree nuts such as cashews, almonds or pecans.
However, peanut butter lovers should put the knife down and the jar back in the kitchen cupboard, as the researchers were unable to find any protective effects from eating the spreadable variety. This could be down to the added salt and vegetable oils in the manufactured products.
In the research, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, Professor van den Brandt puts the benefits of peanuts and tree nuts down to their components, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, various vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.
So how can you make sure you are having your recommended daily intake of nuts if you don't just want to eat a handful straight out of the packet?
Well first off, try adding a sprinkling of almonds to your morning porridge or on top of fruit and natural yoghurt. They also make a great addition to spicy chicken curries if you'd rather incorporate them into your diet later in the day. Peanuts also work in Asian dishes, so you can mix it up from day to day.
Walnuts work beautifully with chopped banana, a drizzle of honey and a splash of cinnamon for a tasty dessert or snack while you're working.