Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Research Scientist Vasanti Malik, ScD, presented the latest research on the rising importance of plant-based diets for human and planetary health.
“The United States was once the epicenter of diabetes – now it is a global issue,” Malik said. “Peanuts are a holistic food that provide a variety of health benefits such as a decreased risk of chronic diseases and total and cause-specific mortality.” In addition, according to the research presented, peanuts are one of the most cost-effective and sustainable sources of protein and require much less water than other protein sources, making them good for the planet as well.
Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science Professor and Researcher Dr. Rick Mattes spoke to health influencers about the discrimination of peanuts and the danger of losing an opportunity to capitalize on healthy snacking.
“While a bias against peanuts may exist, it’s not based on science. The protein packed food contains essential nutrients and bioactive compounds that can deliver important health benefits,” Mattes said.
Other new research indicates that the early introduction of peanuts in children can safely prevent peanut allergies later in life. The LEAP Study (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) showed that children exposed to peanut foods between 4-11 months of age had an 80% reduction in peanut allergy at the end of five years.
The bioactive compounds found in peanuts can help prevent disease, improve longevity and deliver positive effects to the digestive, endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. Peanuts are a source of several bioactive compounds that have been found to deliver health and wellness benefits.
- Peanuts contain arginine, an amino acid, which strengthens the immune system and regulates blood sugar. Arginine improves liver, skin, joint and muscle health and has been linked to improving circulation and keeping arteries flexible.
- Peanuts contain resveratrol, a compound found in red wine (from the skin of red grapes), shown to improve longevity. Experts say this compound blocks the growth of cancer cells, reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and decreases inflammation.
- Peanuts also contain phytosterols, which are powerful bioactive compounds in the fight against heart disease. Phytosterols block the absorption of cholesterol from a person’s diet, which can lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Peanuts contain significant sources of polyphenols, an antioxidant that protects against oxidative damage diseases and coronary heart disease. Flavonoids found in peanuts make the legume a bioactive superfood. These bioactives can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke and protect against cancer.
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The program was made possible by an educational grant from The Peanut Institute and the National Peanut Board. The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization supporting nutrition research and developing educational programs to encourage healthful lifestyles that include peanuts and peanut products. The Peanut Institute pursues its mission through research programs, educational initiatives, and the promotion of healthful lifestyles to consumers of all ages. As an independent forum, The Peanut Institute is uniquely positioned to work with all segments of the food industry, the research community, academia, consumer organizations, and governmental institutions.