Go On – Crack Open That Shell -Eat More Peanuts for Healthier Hearts

Apr 20, 1998

No more passing on the peanuts — ground breaking research is showing that diets which include peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil every day are not only satisfying but are as heart-healthy as olive oil and more heart-healthy than low fat diets.

These timely findings will be presented April 20 from 8:30 am to 4:00pm at the San Francisco Marriott Salon 1/2/3 at the Experimental Biology conference sponsored by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). A press breakfast attended by the scientists will occur on April 20 from 7:15 am – 8:30 am in the San Francisco Marriott Sierra 5-K. Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton will be participating in a FASEB sponsored press briefing at 3:00 pm, April 21 in Room 232 of the San Francisco Moscone Convention Center.

In the first study, conducted by Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton and Dr. Tom Pearson, the healthy subjects consumed five types of diets — low fat, olive oil, peanut/peanut butter, peanut oil and typical American. Results show that the peanut/peanut butter, peanut oil and olive oil diets (all low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and high in monunsaturated fat), lowered total cholesterol and the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but did not lower the beneficial HDL cholesterol. The low fat diet did lower LDL cholesterol levels but also lowered HDL cholesterol and increased triglyceride levels. The ‘peanut diets’ included small amounts of peanut products daily – a little peanut butter on a bagel, peanuts as an afternoon snack, and peanut oil in salad dressing. Dr. Etherton is the Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State University.

Dr. Pearson is Kaiser Professor in the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester.

The second study, by Dr. Richard Mattes, Professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Purdue University, showed that snacks of peanuts and peanut butter produced more satisfaction and feelings of fullness. After eating the peanuts and peanut butter, subjects with normal weight — who consumed seven different snacks — did not take in more total calories but did increase the amount of heart-healthy monunsaturated fat in their diet.

The third study, conducted by Dr. Frank Sacks and Kathy McManus, MS, RD, are finding that weight loss eating plans do not have to be low in fat to be successful. Eating plans, which focus on reducing foods high in saturated fat and replacing them with foods filled with monounsaturated fat such as peanuts and peanut butter, are tasty, satisfying and extremely nutritious.

Dr. Sacks is an Associate Professor in the Harvard Medical School and an Associate Professor of Nutrition in the Harvard School of Public Health. McManus is the Manager of Clinical Nutrition and Coordinator for Quality Improvement Programs in the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Beside the beneficial fatty acids, these complex plant foods also contain antioxidant Vitamin E, folic acid, phytochemicals, fiber, minerals and plant protein which all contribute to heart disease protection.

The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization that supports nutrition research and develops educational programs to encourage healthful lifestyles.