Plant-Based Protein: What’s All the Hype About?

By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD

Plant-based proteins are all the rage in food today – and with good reason.  Protein from plants generally comes along in package replete with micronutrients and fiber that can help boost the overall nutrition of any meal.  Peanuts are the perfect example of a delicious way to choose plant-based protein as part of nutritious meal planning. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating a variety of protein sources, and includes vegetarian sources such as peanuts.1

According to an article in The Permanente Journal, Tuso and colleagues outline the many good reasons for eating a plant-based diet, which they identified as vegan, vegetarian, and Mediterranean ways of eating.2  The authors showed that those who eat a plant-based diet have lower rates of obesity as compared to those that do not, likely due to the fact that these diets are lower in calories, potentially lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and overall mortality.  In fact, a 2013 study (of 16,200 women and 11,229 men) by Harvard researchers found similar results regarding reduced mortality to all causes among people who ate nuts (including peanuts).3

Why eat peanuts as your choice for a plant-based protein?
  • The protein in peanuts is part of the 30 essential vitamins and nutrients inside that shell.  For instance, peanuts are a good source of magnesium, vitamin E, folate, copper and phosphorus, as well as an excellent source of niacin and manganese. 
  • Plant-based protein like peanuts includes fiber, which is not included in animal based sources of protein.  According to MedlinePlus, a resource of the NIH, “Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster, helping you control your weight. It helps digestion and helps prevent constipation Most Americans don't eat enough dietary fiber.” One serving of peanuts provides 10% of the DV of fiber.  
  • Peanuts taste amazing!  Whether you enjoy them in a salad, tossed in an Asian noodle bowl, or swirled into your morning oats, peanuts add a familiar and delicious flavor, crunchy texture and contrast along with great nutrition.

The benefits of a plant-based diet, including peanuts, can’t be under-emphasized – it’s nutritious and tasty!  Shifting to a plant-based diet opens all kinds of new styles of eating.  Check out the recipe section of the National Peanut Board website to find inspiration for your meals.

  1. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Available at Accessed on June 17, 2016.
  2. Tuso P, Ismail M, Ha B, and Bartolotto C.  Nutrition Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets. Perm J. 17(2):61-66.  Available at
  3.  Bao Y, et al. Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. NEJM. 2013;369:2001-2011.  Available at  

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