Why Peanuts Fit in Your Healthy Diet for Life

As we age, nutrition becomes a key factor in maintaining good health from the inside, out. Enter the perfectly powerful peanut. Research has confirmed that peanuts provide the body protective benefits that are essential for healthy aging:

Decreased Risk of Stroke & Gastric Cancer

In a systematic review of 20 studies, consuming an ounce (28 or so) of peanuts was associated with a decreased stroke risk.1

Additionally, peanut butter consumption has also been inversely linked to the risk of gastric cancer according to a 2017 study of older American adults (50-71).2

The study looked at the diets of over 566,000 people over a period of 15.5 years. Compared with those who did not consume nuts or peanut butter, people that had the highest consumption also had the lowest risk of developing gastric cancer. Some limitations of the study include the use of food frequency questionnaires (FFQs), which are subject to human error, and the fact that it was not a randomized controlled trial – the gold standard in research.

Heart Health and Weight Loss

Peanuts provide benefits for the most important muscle in the body, the heart. The fat in peanuts is primarily mono- and polyunsaturated, and is proven to help support a healthy heart, particularly when replacing saturated fats. Peanuts have an approved heart health claim that says, “Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove that eating 1.5 oz. 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.”3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Additionally, a Harvard-supervised weight loss study found that participants (101 overweight men and women) on a calorie-controlled, moderate-fat diet, which included peanut butter, had greater and more sustained weight loss than people on a calorie-controlled, low-fat diet. 10 And participants on the moderate-fat diet were more likely to remain compliant at 18 months.  The results suggested that a moderate fat diet, which included peanuts and peanut butter resulted in weight loss without the participants reporting feelings of hunger. Limitations of the study included its relatively small sample size and the lack of success in obtaining follow-up measurements of all dropouts. Fewer participants dropped out of the moderate-fat diet as compared to the low-fat diet.

Peanuts have fat, protein and fiber, which all help people feel full longer.11

Managing Diabetes

Peanuts and peanut butter can be a powerful ally for a nutritious diet for the 25 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes. Peanuts are great for someone with diabetes because they have been shown to have a low glycemic index (GI) and are full of good nutrients, along with being on many recommended food lists, including the American Diabetes Association.12, 13

Peanuts and peanut butter can be paired with carbohydrates (like a piece of bread or fruit) to steadily raise blood sugar. The fiber in peanuts and peanut butter also helps the body feel full. Plus, they are a great way to add flavor, variety and substance to meals and snacks.

Healthy Skin

It is not surprising that peanuts also have benefits for the largest organ in the body, the skin. Vitamin E, found in peanuts, can help reduce build-up of free radicals from the sun. Free radicals speed up conditions related to the aging process.14, 15 One ounce of peanuts and ½ cup cooked spinach provide 10 percent of the daily recommended value (DV) of vitamin E, and 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter provides 15 percent of the DV. 16

Vision Health

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the U.S., affects nearly 11 million people ages 60 and older in the U.S. A 2017 study found that eating peanuts is associated with a lowered risk of AMD. 17

The diets from more than 4,000 participants (ages 55 to 80) were analyzed through food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) in relation to type or severity of AMD. The diets were separated into two major groups, Oriental and Western, and then further separated into eight minor meal patterns (peanut, breakfast, steak, salad, Caribbean, pizza, alcohol and beverage). Results revealed a significant association between a diet including peanuts (four times per week), and a 36 percent decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, compared with non-peanut eaters. However, some limitations of the study were the use of FFQs, which are subject to human error, and it was also not a randomized controlled trial.

Research shows peanuts offer many benefits for the body, as well as being nutrient-dense with protein, good fats, vitamins and minerals. Peanuts are a healthy, affordable and delicious part of any diet at every stage of life.

 

Edited by Caroline Young Bearden, MS, RD, LD

 

 

 

References:

1 Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC Medicine. 2016;14(1). doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3

2 Hashemian M, Murphy G, Etemadi A, Dawsey SM, Liao LM, Abnet CC. Nut and peanut butter consumption and the risk of esophageal and gastric cancer subtypes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.117.159467.

3 Fraser, G. (1992). A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Archives of Internal Medicine , 152, 1416-1224.

4 Fraser, G. (1995). Effect of risk factor values on lifetime risk of and age at first coronary event. The Adventist Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology , 152, 746-758.

5 Griel, A. (2006). Tree nuts and the lipid profile: a review of clinical studies. British Journal of Nutrition, S68-78.

6 Hu, F. (1998). Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal , 317, 1341-1345.

7 Jiang, R. (2002). Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Journal of the American Medical Association , 288, 2554-2560.

8 Kris-Etherton, P. (2007). The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of coronary heart disease: multiple potential mechanisms. Journal of Nutrition, 138, 1746S-1751S.

9 Kelly, J. (2006). Nuts and coronary heart disease: an epidemiological perspective. British Journal of Nutrition , 96, S61-S67

10 Freisling H, Hwayoung N, Slimani N, et al. Nut intake and 5-year changes in body weight and obesity risk in adults: results from the EPIC-PANACEA study. Eur J Nutr. 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s00394-017-1513-0).

11 Fiber: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Fiber: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002470.htm. Accessed October 13, 2016.

12 The University of Sydney. About Glycemic Index. Available at http://www.glycemicindex.com/about.php.  Accessed on August 23, 2017.

13 American Diabetes Association. Glycemic Index and Diabetes. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html. Accessed on August 23, 2017.  

14 Antioxidants. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/antioxidants.html. Updated January 12, 2017. Accessed April 6, 2017.

15 Antioxidants: In Depth. National Institutes of Health:National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm. Updated May 4, 2016. Accessed April 6, 2017.

16 Vitamin E. National Institutes of Health:Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/#h3. Updated November 3, 2016. Accessed April 6, 2017.

17 Chiu C-J, Change M-L, Li T, Gensler G, Taylor A. Visualization of dietary patterns and their associations with age-related macular degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2017;58:XXX-XXX. DOI: 10.1167/iovs.16-20454.

 

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