Working for Peanuts


Peanuts are a powerhouse of good nutrition that can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease. They are rich in what is called monounsaturated fats. Not only do peanuts contain oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olive oil, but these tasty nuts are also as rich in antioxidants as many fruits.

Peanuts are a great source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. They also provide resveratrol, the phenolic antioxidant found in red grapes and red wine. In France people consume a diet that is not low in fat, but they have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to the U.S. And, peanuts can amazingly lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%.

Roasted peanuts rival the antioxidant content of blackberries and strawberries, and are far richer in antioxidants than apples, carrots or beets. Peanuts can even create a sense of fullness, reducing the overall caloric consumption. Peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols, mostly a compound called p-coumaric acid, and roasting them can increase their p-coumaric acid levels, boosting their overall antioxidant content up to 22%.

There have been several studies showing the health benefits of nuts. They’ve been shown to play an important role in helping to decreasing “bad” cholesterol levels and increasing “good” cholesterol levels (yes, there is bad and good cholesterol). Also, they can help dilate blood vessels and prevent hardening of the arteries.

In the Nurses’ Health Study that followed 86,016 nurses for 14 years, found that those who ate 5 ounces or more nuts per week had a reduction of their risk of dying from heart disease by 35%. It was also noted that the nut-eaters tended to weigh less than the nurses who did not eat nuts. Nuts can be considered health food, but that doesn’t mean to overindulge. When you add nuts to your diet, you are adding calories along with the health benefits. This makes it very important to decrease calories in other ways to avoid weight gain.

Calling peanut butter a diet food, with 180 to 210 calories per serving, may seem a little ridiculous. But, it has the enviable combination of fiber and protein that has a way of filling you up and keeping you feeling full longer, so you can actually end up eating less. Plus, there’s nothing tastier (and who doesn’t like a little indulgence now and then) than licking peanut butter off a spoon–and indulgence (in moderation) can help dieters fight those nasty cravings and stay on track.

A serving of peanut butter has 3 mg of the antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of magnesium, 208 mg of potassium, and 0.17 mg of vitamin B6. Here’s a helpful hint: If you’re buying reduced-fat peanut butter because you think it’s better for your diet, pocket your money. The calories are the same (or even a little higher) thanks to the extra ingredients that are added to make up for the missing fat (including more sugar).

So, go ahead, make your heart work for peanuts and see what they can do for you.

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