The newly released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) emphasize choosing nuts and legumes, like peanuts, as part of a healthy eating pattern. The DGA are reviewed and released every five years as a way to provide evidence-based recommendations on how Americans should align their diets to achieve better health. They also highlight areas where Americans are deficient and need to increase certain nutrients (nutrients of concern), or areas where we may be excessive (calories). The most recent DGA are a great reference for how to eat in a way that best supports good health using five guidelines:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
- Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
- Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
- Support healthy eating patterns for all.
Healthy eating patterns vary, but all include a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains (1/2 of which should be whole), fat-free or low-fat dairy, a variety of proteins (including plant-based proteins such as peanuts), and oils (such as peanut oil). Among these nutritious recommendations, nuts are mentioned numerous times as a food to be sure to eat. These healthy patterns also limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. Some examples provided for healthy eating patterns include the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern – both of which are heavily geared toward plant-based eating.
According to the DGA, the majority of Americans are not eating adequate amounts of vegetables, fruit or dairy. More than 40% of the population fails to eat enough protein or grains for their best health, yet are eating too much added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Shifting choices toward more nutrient-dense foods is recommended as a strategy to help people attain a healthier overall diet.
Peanuts, peanut butter, peanut powder, and peanut oil are all foods that can be part of a healthy overall dietary pattern. In addition to 7 powerful grams of plant-based protein, peanuts provide 30 essential vitamins and nutrients, fiber, and mostly good fats.
- Add peanuts to salads for crunch and a nutritious punch.
- Peanut butter is a delicious and nutritious food that can help children and adults eat more vegetables when served as a dip or spread, and grains when served on whole grain bread as a sandwich for instance.
- Peanut powder is a healthy option to add more plant-based protein to smoothies, sauces, and soups.
- And peanut oil is a great option for sautéing, stir-frying, and even for baking.