Healthy PeanutsWhat if one drug could help curb your appetite, lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and decrease your risk for heart disease? You’d take it, right?
The inexpensive, accessible and oh-so-easy-to-eat peanut has been shown to do all that and more.
Whether your goal is weight loss or better overall health, there are some convincing arguments for including peanuts in your diet on a nearly daily basis.
Note: Since peanuts are high in fat, moderation is key here: 1 to 1-½ ounces a day can provide the health benefits outlined here.
Editor's Note: We also recognize that peanut allergies are a very real concern for many, as discussed in Peanut Allergies at School. All recommendations here are for those who can safely consume peanuts.
1. Keep your appetite from going nutsPeanuts are a high satiety food, which means they make you feel fuller for longer. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, participants who snacked on peanuts ate less later. The satiety value of peanuts is not solely a result of their fat, fiber, or protein content, but “from the synergy of all of these components,” said Dr. Richard Mattes, Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University.
You may also eat less when you have peanuts or peanut butter at breakfast, said Kathy McManus, Director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, “Because they have the effect of stabilizing blood sugar, you’re not going to feel hungry as soon.”
2. Crack down on your sodium consumption—without giving up your salty snack fixIt’s hard to believe a snack food with all that salty pleasure could be okay for even sodium-restricted diets. Here’s the astonishing fact: One ounce of salted peanuts contains less sodium that an average 1-ounce slice of bread, a frozen waffle, or ¾ cup of bran flakes.
3. Reduce your risk of diabetes and control blood sugarOne study found that replacing one serving of red meat daily with one serving of peanuts could reduce your risk of diabetes by a whopping 21%.
Peanuts can slow the absorption of carbohydrates and, when you eat them in the morning, can keep your blood sugar levels lower all day long.
4. Keep your heart healthyAn article in The Journal of Nutrition found that research participants who ate the most peanuts had a 35% reduced risk of coronary heart disease incidence. That means reducing your chances of dying from heart disease by over a third! Research stated that the fatty acid profile of the nuts, along with other components, reduced LDL-cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” resulting in healthier hearts.
5. Protect yourself from colon cancerColorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, and researchers agree that diet plays a heavy role in prevention. Research found that women who ate peanuts at least 2 times per week were 58% less likely to get colon cancer. Men who ate peanuts were found to be 27% less likely. Folic acid and other cancer-fighting nutrients in peanuts are thought to be the reason for the decrease.
Healthy Peanut Snacks150-250 calories snacks:
- 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- Peanut butter smoothie: 6 ounces Greek yogurt, ½ banana, 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 ounce peanuts
- Homemade trail mix: 15 peanuts, 1 tablespoon dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 medium apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- Popcorn trail mix: 1 cup popcorn with 2 tablespoons peanuts and 1 tablespoon raisins
Snack ideas courtesy of Kathy McManus
Peanut Butter–Banana BreadThis easy bread is great for including more peanuts in your diet since it contains both peanut butter and peanuts. Peanut butter is whipped into the basic recipe for a moist bread with a hint of nutty flavor. A small amount of chopped roasted peanuts offers crunch and more nutty goodness.
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Flax SmoothiesMake these smoothies in the morning for a delicious dose of peanuty goodness, or for dessert for a sweet treat. If the smoothies seem too thick, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
Peanut Butter Hummus with Cucumber DippersHummus is made more kid-friendly with the addition of peanut butter. Adults will love this recipe, too, and both will get a healthy portion of peanuts.
Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and PeanutsPeanuts add the perfect savory flavor to this Asian-inspired healthy dinner.
Szechuan-Style Tofu with PeanutsSpice up your supper with this Asian-flavored vegetarian dish, topped with crunchy peanuts.
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