Peanuts and peanut butter stand out as unique healthful foods for more than just their protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They have also been recognized as a great way to get multiple nutrients in a small portion from a single food source versus a supplement. Peanuts and peanut butter are full of vitamins and minerals that are integral to growth, development, metabolicfunction, and immunity. All of the nutrients in peanuts work by multiple mechanisms and are likely having synergistic effects toward improving health status.
Role of Nutrients in Peanuts and What A Small Handful Adds To Our Diets
|Nutrient||Function in Body||1 Ounce of Peanuts|
|NIACIN||Niacin helps convert food to energy. The digestive system, skin, and nerves also use niacin to function. Further, research shows that dietary niacin may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.||
25% of RDA
Folate is especially important in infancy and pregnancy.
It helps produce and maintain cells. Research shows that people who take in higher dietary folate may have an advantage when it comes to prevention of heart disease.
10% of RDA
|PANTOTHENIC ACID||Pantothenic acid is critical in the metabolism and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.||More than 5% of RDA|
|THIAMIN (B1)||Thiamin is essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system. It also helps cells in the body convert carbohydrates into energy.||Almost 5% of RDA|
|RIBOFLAVIN (B2)||Riboflavin has a key role in metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.||Almost 5% of RDA|
|CHOLINE||Choline is critical for normal membrane structure and function. It is also important to lung function and memory development in infants.||Almost 5% of RDA|
|VITAMIN B6||Vitamin B6 is involved in protein and red blood cell metabolism and has a role in the nervous and immune systems. A higher intake of dietary vitamin B6 may be beneficial for heart disease.||Over 5% of RDA|
|VITAMINE E||Vitamin E is commonly known as an antioxidant, but it is also involved in immune function and regulation of certain metabolic processes. Since studies that have supplemented vitamin E have been mixed, eating peanuts is a great way to get it from a dietary source. Vitamin E is considered a hard-to-get nutrient for men and women.||Excellent source 20% of RDA|
|MAGNESIUM||Magnesium has multiple roles in the body. It maintains normal muscle and nerve function thereby keeping our heart rhythm steady. It supports a healthy immune system. It also promotes normal blood pressure, keeps bones strong, and helps to regulate blood sugar levels. A number of studies have shown that magnesium intake is associated with reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.||Good source 12% of RDA|
|PHOSPHORUS||Phosphorus primarily functions in the formation of bones and teeth. It also helps synthesize protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.||Almost 10% of RDA|
|POTASSIUM||Potassium is critical to maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. It is important for brain and nerve function and is necessary for normal growth and muscle.||Almost 5% of RDA|
Zinc supports our immune systems, helps in wound healing, and is involved in building proteins. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during
pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence.
|Almost 10% of RDA|
Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. It is involved in oxygen transport and helps regulate cell growth and
|Almost 10% of RDA|
Copper plays a role in the production of key proteins in our body such as collagen and hemoglobin, which
|Excellent source 21% of RDA|
|MANGANESE||Manganese is a cofactor for many enzymes.||
Source 26% of RDA
Selenium is an antioxidant helping to prevent cellular damage from free radicals. It regulates thyroid function
and plays a role in the immune system.
|Almost 5% of RDA|
RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance
Nutrients for dry roasted, salted peanuts obtained from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list
Click here to download this chart.
Nutrients of Concern
It doesn’t take many peanuts to help bump up the levels of nutrients that we need each day. Just a small handful can naturally provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are hard to get. In fact, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program chooses to include peanut butter in food packages.
According to the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, Americans tend to lack nutrients like magnesium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin E. An early study looked at the diets of almost 15,000 American children and adults to assess the impact of peanuts. Researchers found that those who consumed peanuts and peanut products achieved higher Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber than those who did not eat peanuts. Overall, peanut-eaters had higher-quality diets than non-eaters.
In a human study conducted at Purdue University, eating about 3 ounces of peanuts a day lead to significant increases in the intake of fiber, magnesium, folate, vitamin E, copper, and the amino acid arginine. Also in the study, initial baseline values of blood magnesium fell below recommended levels, but these levels increased in all of the peanut eaters to above recommended levels corresponding with a range required to lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
Last reviewed: February 2019
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/.
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