Are Peanuts Healthy?
Who doesn’t enjoy munching on a handful of peanuts? These salty, little orbs may bring back childhood memories of a day at the circus, but peanuts are still a popular snack even now that you’re all grown-up. There’s something addictive about a snack that’s so salty and crunchy. But what about their health benefits? Are peanuts a healthy snack?
The Nutritional Low-Down
Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats - heart-healthy fats that may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They’re also high in protein with a quarter-cup supplying almost 20% of the day’s requirement. In terms of vitamins, they’re a good source of niacin, a B-vitamin that’s important for carbohydrate metabolism, and vitamin E, an antioxidant superstar. They’re also rich in folate, a B vitamin that builds healthy blood cells.
Peanuts are a good source of antioxidants, compounds that are the focus of a great deal of research. Antioxidants help to offset free radical damage to cells that can lead to cancer and other chronic diseases. It may be the antioxidant effects that partially make peanuts so heart-healthy. They help to reduce inflammation in arteries that can trigger a heart attack and also prevent the type of platelet clumping that can bring on a heart attack or stroke.
Peanuts are a good source of resveratrol, a natural chemical that may also lower the risk of heart disease. Resveratrol is also abundant in red wine and may be responsible for some of its heart protective benefits. Ongoing studies are looking at the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol.
Can Peanuts Help You Lose Weight?
Peanuts aren’t low in calories. With a quarter-cup of this salty snack packing around 206 calories, you might think they’d be a liability if you’re trying to lose weight. Not necessarily so. In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that peanut-eaters who snacked on nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight compared to those who avoided nuts. Why do calorie-dense peanuts reduce the risk of weight gain? It may be the satiety-inducing effects of the protein and monounsaturated fats, which suppresses the appetite.
The Bottom Line
Peanuts are a healthy snack choice, but moderation is key since they are calorie-dense. It’s best to limit yourself to a small handful each day to prevent calorie overload. Choose raw, unsalted peanuts to maximize their antioxidant benefits and reduce the amount of sodium you take in. Choose peanuts instead of snacks that are high in carbohydrates such as potato chips and French fries to help control your weight - and your appetite. Peanuts are a filling snack option with lots of health benefits. Eat them in good health.
American Coll. Nutr. 2003 Apr; 22(2): 133-41.
Obesity. 2007 Jan; 15(1): 107-16.
Nutraingredients.com website. “Niacin appears to protect against Alzheimer’s too”
World’s Healthiest Foods Website.