When people think of the leading cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular disease is not always the first thing that comes to mind. Over 81.1 million Americans have cardiovascular disease, which equates to about 37 percent of the total population (1). You might also be surprised to learn that peanuts are heart healthy and oil-roasted, lightly salted peanuts have the Heart Check from the American Heart Association.

One of the contributing factors to cardiovascular disease is high total blood cholesterol levels and, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, 16 percent of the US adult population has this condition (1). In honor of September’s National Cholesterol Education Month, we’re spreading the word about ways to help lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease.

While the statistics about heart disease are startling, the good news is high total cholesterol can be prevented or lowered with certain healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercise (2).  A simple blood test at your doctor’s office or a public screening can help you know where your cholesterol levels are and if you are at risk.

Peanut Butter Apple Oats

You can add peanut butter to your oatmeal for a cholesterol free way to start your day with this twist on a classic recipe for Peanut Butter Apple Spiced Oats.

Peanuts are a great way to add a heart-healthy, cholesterol-free food to your diet!  Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease (4).  You can add peanut butter to your oatmeal for a cholesterol free way to start your day with this twist on a classic recipe for Peanut Butter Apple Spiced Oats.

Peanuts contain mostly good fat, including 12 grams mono and polyunsaturated fats (plus 2 grams saturated) (4).  According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, “fat intake should emphasize monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in seafood, nuts, seeds, and oils” (1).  Next time you want an easy recipe to impress your guests try this Seven Minute Salmon. It contains both peanuts and salmon combining two sources of mostly good fats.

To learn more about peanuts and a heart-healthy lifestyle please visit our “Heart-Healthy” page for more detailed information.

References:

1. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services.  Dietary Guidelines   for Americans 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, D.C.; US Government Printing Office, December 2010.  Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf.  Accessed July 10, 2013.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Cholesterol: About High Blood Cholesterol.  February 9, 2010.  Available at:  http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm.  Accessed July 10, 2013.

3. American Heart Association.  Conditions: Cholesterol.  2013.  Available at:  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/About-Cholesterol_UCM_001220_Article.jsp.  Accessed July 10, 2013.

4. National Peanut Board.  Health Professionals and Heart Health.  2013.  Available at: http://nationalpeanutboard.org/nutrition/heart-health/.  Accessed July 10, 2013.

This post was written by NPB intern Mary Parker Davis, a student in the dietetics program at Georgia State University, and reviewed by Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RD, LD.