Just 4 or 5 peanuts a day may lower stroke risk in Japanese adults

By American Heart Association News

irem01/iStock, Getty Images
(irem01/iStock, Getty Images)

Eating peanuts each day may lower risk for a common type of stroke and heart disease compared to eating no peanuts, according to new research in Asian men and women living in Japan.

The study, published Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, found people who ate four to five peanuts per day had a 20% lower risk of having a blood clot-related stroke and a 16% lower risk of having any type of stroke. The analysis also determined peanut-eaters had a 13% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes both strokes and heart disease. The results were the same for men and women.

"The habit of eating peanuts and tree nuts is still not common in Asian countries. However, adding even a small amount to one's diet could be a simple yet effective approach to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," lead study author Satoyo Ikehara said in a news release. Ikehara is a specially appointed associate professor of public health in the department of social medicine at the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Suita, Japan.

Ikehara said peanuts are rich in heart-healthy nutrients, such as "monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber that help lower risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood levels of 'bad' cholesterol and chronic inflammation."

Previous studies have shown improved cardiovascular health in U.S. adults who eat peanuts.

In the new study, researchers analyzed food questionnaires for 74,793 Asian men and women, ages 45 to 74, who enrolled in the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. The group was followed for a median of 15 years. Researchers examined the link between how many peanuts they ate and their risk of having several types of cardiovascular events.

These included two types of strokes: ischemic, the kind caused by blood clots that accounts for 87% of all strokes, and hemorrhagic, caused by weakened vessels that rupture and bleed into the brain. They also looked at the link between eating peanuts and developing ischemic heart disease, which occurs when the arteries leading to the heart are too narrow.

The AHA recommends eating five servings – which is about 10 tablespoons – of unsalted nuts per week. Besides peanuts, other healthy nut options include unsalted cashews, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and hazelnuts.

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