Good for Every Body
No matter your age or weight, peanuts and peanut butter are good for your health and can play an important role in all kinds of diets. Whether they help you lose weight, enhance the nutritional quality of your diet, or prevent the onset of disease, peanuts provide benefits to everyone.
Even those who are malnourished can reach healthy weights when consuming peanut-based foods. And athletes jump to peanuts knowing that their energy supply will be filled with quality nutrients for their metabolism. Are you reaping the benefits that peanuts have to offer? Read more on the benefits of peanuts on specific groups by clicking the links below.
Peanuts and peanut products are a family-friendly food. First, peanuts and peanut products are superbly healthy. They are chock-full of nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Peanuts and peanut products are also packed with energy, helping you and your kids get through the school and work week. These energy- and nutrient-dense qualities in peanuts help give your family a sense of “satiety,” (a feeling of satisfaction) throughout the day so you and your kids won’t reach for that unhealthy snack after school or work.
Second, peanuts and peanut products are affordable. Groceries are expensive and families have major investments to save for, like college and retirement. Roasted, boiled, or used as a spread, peanuts are one of the most healthy and affordable foods in the market. Did you know that there’s just as much (or even more) protein per dollar in peanuts and peanut products than in some meats?
Third, peanuts are versatile. Roasted peanuts can be used as toppings on salads, pasta dishes, and desserts. Boiled peanuts can be made into soup, sauces, or enjoyed as a snack. Peanut skins can even be made into a delicious and aromatic tea to help you wind down at the end of the day. Peanut flour and peanut oil can be used every day in countless ways. Oh, did we also mention that peanut flour and peanuts are gluten-free? (Just remember to check the labeling for processing).
Fourth, peanuts and peanut products taste great. The all-American peanut butter sandwich is still a classic for a reason. They are easy to make and easy to eat. Kids, adults, and seniors alike enjoy peanut butter sandwiches every day–on the go or at the table. Peanut butter as a dip for fruits and veggies is also a delicious a way to get your daily amount of fruits and veggies.
Lastly, peanuts and peanut products are sustainable and available year-round. A jar of peanut butter can be kept in the pantry for up to 6 months, and can last in the fridge for up to a year—and even longer in the freezer. Plus, a roasted bag of peanuts can be kept in the refrigerator all year long.
A number of studies has looked at the health benefit of peanuts in adults. They tell us that peanuts lower cholesterol, help prevent chronic disease, manage hunger and weight, and improve the nutrient quality of our diets.
Peanuts improve nutrient intake
Data reported from the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals and Diet and Health Knowledge Survey (CSFII/DHKS) from 1994-1996 showed that women who consumed peanuts had higher intakes of healthy fats, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, leading to higher healthy eating index scores. Folate is important to women of childbearing age to help prevent neural tube defects in fetal development, and iron can help reduce anemia in women. The nutrient contribution from peanuts is one reason why the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program has included peanut butter in food packages for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Women who eat peanuts have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) according to CSFII/DHKS data. If you’re trying to manage your weight, peanuts are a great choice to include in a healthy diet—and you only need a handful a day.
Lower risk of diabetes
The Nurses’ Health Study assessed more than 80,000 women and their relationship to type 2 diabetes. In those who consumed an ounce of peanuts or a tablespoon of peanut butter five or more times per week, the risk of type 2 diabetes was lowered by more than 20%.
Lower risk of heart disease in those who are diabetic
In more than 6,000 female diabetics in the Nurses’ Health Study, those who consumed at least five servings per week of peanuts (1 ounce) or half a serving of peanut butter also significantly reduced their risk of heart disease. In fact, the American Diabetes Association website explains that nuts like peanuts “can go a long way in providing key healthy fats along with hunger management.”
Healthier cholesterol levels
In one study, post-menopausal women with high cholesterol who were provided a low-fat diet that included healthy fats from peanuts ended up improving their cholesterol. Peanuts can be added to all types of diets at any age and the research continues to show their benefits. They also contain phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels as well.
Reduced mortality from heart disease
In over 30,000 postmenopausal women studied, those who ate nuts and seeds, including peanuts, more than four times per week had a 40% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease. This goes to show that adding a small serving of peanuts to your diet can have a large impact.
Decreased risk of colon cancer
The effects of nut and seed intake on colorectal cancer risk was studied within a large population analysis in Europe called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Researchers found that women with the highest intake of nuts and seeds, including peanuts, had the lowest risk of colon cancer.
Reduced incidence of gallstone disease
Women from the Nurses’ Health Study who ate five or more servings of peanuts per week were less likely to have gallstone disease. Since gallstone disease has been on the rise, it is great to know that making some dietary changes can help reduce the risk.
Reduced mortality from coronary heart disease
Over 20,000 male physicians were followed in the U.S. Physicians’ Health Study. Compared to those who rarely or never ate nuts such as peanuts, physicians who ate them two or more times per week cut their risk of cardiac death in half; they also cut their risk of coronary heart disease by a third.
A recent study shows that kids eat higher numbers and more varieties of fruits and vegetables when peanut butter is used as a dip—that’s one great way to get your kids eating healthy! Studies also show that kids are better able to concentrate and succeed in school when they’re not distracted by hunger; peanuts provide kids with the energy and satisfaction they need throughout the school day and after school. Teach your kids how to make a peanut butter sandwich. It’s safe and (almost) mess-free!
A peanut butter sandwich tastes great–and it’s easy to make and eat. It is also chock-full of proteins to help senior adults retain their muscles, especially as they get older. The peanut is part of the legume family, which means it usually contains lots of B -vitamins that many senior adults lack in their diet. B-vitamins are especially important for memory and cognition. Peanuts (especially the skins) contain resveratrol, a bioactive nutrient found to have anti-aging properties that protects cells from being damaged. And the fats found in peanuts can help ease joint pain caused by inflammation and wear-and-tear over the years.
Peanuts are packed full of energy and proteins for hard-core athletes and fitness junkies. On top of this, peanuts contain high levels of arginine, a protein especially important during exercise and physical activity. Arginine is a precursor for nitric oxide, which helps open blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow and circulation throughout the body—especially to active muscles. Blood carries oxygen throughout the body, giving muscles a breath of fresh air during physical activities. The proteins found in peanuts also help repair damaged tissues and cells–damage caused when muscles are torn down before becoming bigger as a result of exercise. Recent research shows that arginine may also help decrease the size of white fat cells and increase muscle mass/retention–a definite plus when trying stay fit and lean.
Anyone not getting enough of the daily essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients may be considered malnourished. This includes people who are underweight and obese; herbivores and omnivores; in the hospital or at home. Peanuts provide essential proteins (a peanut butter sandwich provides complete protein) that are often lacking in vegetarians, elderly, and people in acute stress due to illness and disease. Peanuts and peanut products also contain many of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that obese people need—often, these individuals are eating sub-optimal diets. They also contain the good fats that research have found to aid in reducing cardiovascular risk and managing type 2 diabetes. Peanuts and peanut products are full of nutrients and energy for people requiring extra calories to heal during illness who can’t eat a lot. A peanut butter sandwich is easily consumed by people with gum and teeth problems—and they taste great.
In Africa, a peanut paste, fortified with vitamins and minerals, is used to treat acute and severe malnutrition and related diseases. This paste does not require water or refrigeration, a scarcity in under-developed countries.