Not so long ago, it was widely believed that fat in foods was bad for you. Period.

But over time, more research has shed additional light on this topic. Today, health experts say some types of fat are good for you when eaten in sensible amounts.1, 2 And it turns out that flavorful, snackable peanuts are a rich source of this beneficial fat.3, 7

The Key Is Unsaturated

It’s easy to remember which fats are healthy: They have unsaturated in their names.1, 2

Monounsaturated fat1 makes up about two-thirds of the fat in peanuts.3 Other sources of this healthy fat include olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, avocados, and many nuts and seeds.1

Polyunsaturated fat2 accounts for much of the remaining fat in peanuts.3 Other sources of the fat include corn oil, sunflower oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and tofu.2

Experts recommend eating unsaturated fats in sensible amounts and using them to replace saturated fat1, 2, 4—the unhealthy type found in meat, butter, cheese, cream, and whole or 2 percent milk.5 Making this swap may enhance your health in multiple ways.1, 2, 6

Improved Heart Health

Upgrading your fat intake does your heart good.1, 2 In 2017, the American Heart Association issued an advisory on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease.4 It says that eating less saturated fat and replacing it with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can:

  • Lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol—the type of cholesterol that contributes to blocked arteries4
  • Reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke1, 2, 4
  • Decrease your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease4

Better Blood Sugar Control

Your blood sugar levels may also benefit from a switch to healthier fats. In one journal article, an international team of scientists analyzed results from 102 studies involving more than 4,600 people. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats helped keep blood sugar under control when eaten in place of saturated fat, refined grains, and added sugars.6

Lower Risk for Early Death

In addition, the fats you eat may affect your risk of dying early—and not just from heart disease. Harvard researchers looked at this connection in more than 126,000 people, tracking participants’ health for up to 32 years. High intakes of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats were associated with a lower risk of dying during the study from:

  • All causes combined
  • Lung diseases
  • Neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease)8

When it comes to your diet, fat isn’t a dirty word anymore. In fact, some kinds of fat are linked to a longer, healthier life1, 2, 8—and peanuts are a tasty place to find them.3, 7

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Resources

  1. “Monounsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/monounsaturated-fats.
  2. “Polyunsaturated Fat.” American Heart Association. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/polyunsaturated-fats.
  3. “Benefits of Nut Consumption on Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Multiple Potential Mechanisms of Action.” Y. Kim et al. Nutrients. 2017, vol. 9, no. 11, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707743/pdf/nutrients-09-01271.pdf.
  4. “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association.” F.M. Sacks et al. Circulation. 2017, vol. 136, no. 3, pp. e1-e24.
  5. “Saturated Fat.” American Heart Association. https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/saturated-fats.
  6. “Effects of Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate on Glucose-Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Feeding Trials.” F. Imamura et al. PLOS Medicine. 2016, vol. 13, no. 7, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951141/pdf/pmed.1002087.pdf.
  7. “Peanuts as Functional Food: A Review.” S.S. Arya et al. Journal of Food Science and Technology. 2016, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 31-41.
  8. “Specific Dietary Fats in Relation to Total and Cause Specific Mortality.” D.D. Wang et al. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2016, vol. 176, no 8, pp. 1134-45.