News Release

Dec 2, 2020

Study Finds Daily Peanut Consumption Can Help Reverse Metabolic Syndrome – Condition That Affects One in Five Adults

Further Evidence for Thinking of Food as Medicine

Albany, Ga. (December 2, 2020) – The Peanut Institute is sharing recent research that shows eating two ounces of lightly salted peanuts daily for 12 weeks may help reverse a medical condition known as metabolic syndrome. According to a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in the current online issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who ate peanuts had a two times higher likelihood of reversing their metabolic syndrome than those in a control group [1].

The study is a first-of-its-kind to look at the effects of peanut consumption on a medical classification that, according to the American Heart Association, affects approximately 23 percent of adults.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls. Those with metabolic syndrome are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and two times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease within 10 years as someone without it. Some of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

The 12-week dietary intervention study was conducted October 2017 through January 2018 with 224 participants who either had metabolic syndrome or were at risk for it. The research was led by Dr. Xiaoran Liu, Dr. Vasanti Malik and several colleagues from Harvard University and Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health.

“This study is unique because it added just one new element to participants’ diets with the introduction of two servings of peanuts each day,” says Dr. Samara Sterling, director of research for The Peanut Institute. “The research showed the impact of nutrient-dense peanuts and how they positively affected participants’ health outcomes.”

The study also found that eating two servings of peanuts daily for 12 weeks did not cause participants to gain weight. “It’s exciting research because it supports the approach that food can be thought of as medicine in the fight against chronic diseases,” says Sterling. “Peanuts are packed with nutrients and are able to deliver health benefits in a small and affordable serving.”

Two servings or approximately 70 peanuts cost less than 30 cents, are about 170 calories and contain 14 grams of plant protein plus 19 vitamins and minerals.

Peanuts also have antioxidants, polyphenols and phytosterols, plant substances that have been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease and cancer risk, lower inflammation and cholesterol and improve blood flow. In addition, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanuts, like those in olive oil and avocados, help decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

Previous studies have shown that peanut consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

A study published in the Current Atherosclerosis Reports in 2018 found those who consumed peanuts regularly had a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease [2]. Another landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that peanut butter consumption reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 21 percent in women [3].

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Based in Albany, Ga., 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.


  1. Di Wang, Liang Sun, Xiaoran Liu, et al. Replacing white rice bars with peanuts as snacks in the habitual diet improves metabolic syndrome risk among Chinese adults: a randomized controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
  2. Coates, A.M., A.M. Hill, and S.Y. Tan, Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Curr Atheroscler Rep, 2018. 20(10): p. 48.
  3. Jiang, R., et al., Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Jama, 2002. 288(20): p. 2554-60.