The University of Florida used the sandwich staple to test participants' sense of smell – a first indicator of developing the illness – in a new study

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From a gooey chocolate brownie to thick wedge of toast, there are few things in life that a liberal dose of peanut butter can't improve. 

 

But it turns out this toast-topper might have a more noble use than previously thought. 

 

New research from the health department of the University of Florida indicates that a dollop of the nutty stuff could help to diagnose the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. This is because one of the first indicators that a person is developing the illness is that their sense of smell is affected.

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See some other things you didn't know you could do with peanut butter

In a small study conducted by graduate student Jennifer Stamps and published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences, patients who were already in testing for the disease were asked to take part in a very simple test. 

 

Participants were asked to close their eyes and block one nostril. A jar of peanut butter was then opened and a ruler was placed next to the patient's nostril. By moving the jar down towards the patient a centimetre at a time, Stamps was able to determine at which point they could detect the smell. 

 

The scientists discovered the patients who did have early onset Alzheimer's had a dramatic disparity between their sense of smell in each nostril – as they detected the smell an average of 10 centimetres further away with the left nostril than with the right. 

 

Of the findings, Stamps said: "We plan to study patients with mild cognitive impairment to see if this test might be used to predict which patients are going to get Alzheimer's disease."

 

Pretty nifty, huh?

 

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