The Health Benefits of Peanuts and Peanut Butter

PEANUT_BUTTERPeanuts and peanut butter are naturally cholesterol-free.

Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses – providing 15% (7.6g) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level (50g) of protein per serving (one ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter).

Current research supports a connection between a diet rich in plant foods and reduced disease risk, especially heart disease and cancer. Peanuts are an important plant food that can be substituted for animal protein which is higher in saturated fat.

Eating peanuts, peanut butter and nuts five or more times per week can cut heart disease risk by up to 50% based on a large number of large population studies. These include Harvard’s Nurses Study (British Medical Journal, 1998) and Loma Linda’s Seven Day Adventist Study (Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992).

Nutrient-dense peanuts and peanut butter contain many vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the standard American diet. (Just one ounce of peanuts contains nearly half of the 13 vitamins necessary for the body’s growth and maintenance and more than one third of the 20 minerals needed!)

 One ounce of roasted peanuts contains 10% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level of Folate. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich provides 18%. The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation recommends including folate in the diet in the earliest weeks of pregnancy for preventing neural tube birth defects. Additionally, studies have shown that folate consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease (Nurses Health Study, British Medical Journal, November 1998).

One ounce of peanuts supplies 29% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level of Vitamin E. Vitamin E from food sources has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease according to a study in the New England Journal Medicine, May, 1996.

Peanuts contain resveratrol, a naturally occurring plant compound or phytochemical, resveratrol’s presence in red wine has been previously associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and has been credited as the factor in the “French Paradox” (despite a high-fat diet, the French have a surprisingly low rate of heart disease).

Current research indicates that many of the minerals found in peanuts – copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc and calcium – may have protective effect of coronary heart disease.

The beneficial plant fat in peanuts which is about 81% unsaturated (considered the “good” fat) can help lower cholesterol levels when it replaces saturated animal fat in the diet.

Based on FDA’s regulations about trans fat labeling, peanut butter may declare ZERO (0) trans fat.

Each one-ounce serving of peanuts contains 2.4 grams of dietary fiber.

Diet high in monounsaturated fats from foods like peanuts, peanut butter and olive oil are superior to low fat diets for heart health according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (December 1999). Diets high in monounsaturates improve the risk factors for cholesterol (including LDL and HDL) and triglycerides. They reduce heart disease risk by 20% verses only 12% for low fat diets.