Are peanuts part of the Mediterranean diet?
Peanuts have proven their superfood status time and again when it comes to adding nutrition, protein, healthy fats and more to our daily diets—from lowering risks for certain types of cancer, to providing benefits on par with their pricier tree nut alternatives.
As part of the Mediterranean diet, peanuts can become even more powerful. That’s because peanuts work in what’s called a synergistic way, which is a concept that says that the combination of certain healthy foods can enhance the effects of others. Kind of like how great sports teams are more than the sum of their parts.
As one of the three healthy eating patterns recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans1, Mediterranean-type diets bring together a championship-caliber group of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, along with an emphasis on healthy fats—like those found in peanuts.
The benefits start early.
A study of teens ages 14-16 looked at the relationship between following a Mediterranean diet (which included nuts) and their motivation/learning strategies. It was found that participants who most closely followed the diet reported higher scores for elaboration and organization strategies, critical thinking, study habits and goal setting. Authors also noted that adhering to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a higher polyphenol count, which is a class of compounds found in peanuts that can improve cognitive function.2
It can change your gut’s microbiome for the better.
Plant-based and Mediterranean diets have been shown to alter the gut microbiome to provide cardiovascular benefits—like increasing its good bacteria (such as Prevotella taxa) and decreasing harmful metabolites, which in turn can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.3
Adding peanuts may reverse coronary artery disease.
You might already know that peanuts can be protective against heart disease—but did you know they can potentially help reverse it? Investigators have found two clinical cases that show supplementing a low-fat, plant based diet (like the Mediterranean diet) with healthy fats from plant-based origins can actually undo some of the damage of coronary artery disease.4
Peanut-heavy versions of the traditional Mediterranean diet show success in preventing obesity (and more).
A study of Korean adults found that a modified Mediterranean diet that included more peanuts (among other healthy protein sources) was associated with lower rates of belly fat and high triglyceride levels—both components of metabolic syndrome.5
The Mediterranean diet supports our brains as we age
A Mediterranean diet that incorporates peanuts can do more than keep your stomach trim—it can also help keep your mind sharp! Higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with better learning and memory performance in older adults, as compared to those who didn’t follow the diet as closely.6
Is the Mediterranean diet right for you?
If you’re looking for a healthy diet with a proven track record for helping to make the most of peanuts’ superfood powers, we believe the Mediterranean diet is a great place to start!
Interested in learning about another version of the Mediterranean diet with possibly even MORE brain-boosting benefits? Check out info on the MIND diet here.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
- Chacón-Cuberos R, Zurita-Ortega F, Martínez-Martínez A, Olmedo-Moreno EM, Castro-Sánchez M. Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet Is Related to Healthy Habits, Learning Processes, and Academic Achievement in Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study. Nutrients. 2018 Oct 23;10(11). pii: E1566. doi: 10.3390/nu10111566. PubMed PMID: 30360502; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6267280.
- Tindall AM, Petersen KS, Kris-Etherton PM. Dietary Patterns Affect the Gut Microbiome-The Link to Risk of Cardiometabolic Diseases. J Nutr. 2018 Sep 1;148(9):1402-1407. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy141. PubMed PMID: 30184227.
- Sanchez A, Mejia A, Sanchez J, Runte E, Brown-Fraser S, Bivens RL. Diets with customary levels of fat from plant origin may reverse coronary artery disease. Med Hypotheses. 2019 Jan;122:103-105. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2018.10.027. Epub 2018 Oct 30. PubMed PMID: 30593389.
- Kim Y, Je Y. A modified Mediterranean diet score is inversely associated with metabolic syndrome in Korean adults. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Dec;72(12):1682-1689. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0156-4. Epub 2018 Mar 21. PubMed PMID: 29563642.
- Karstens AJ, Tussing-Humphreys L, Zhan L, Rajendran N, Cohen J, Dion C, Zhou XJ, Lamar M. Associations of the Mediterranean diet with cognitive and neuroimaging phenotypes of dementia in healthy older adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Feb 1;109(2):361-368. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy275. PubMed PMID: 30698630; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6367961.