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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well

 

peanutsMarch is National Peanut Month

Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, former Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Dallas County, University of Missouri Extension

 

According to the Peanut Institute, peanuts are the most popular nut choice in the U.S. Not only are peanuts well liked, but they offer many health benefits as well. Despite the fact that peanuts are high in fat, they are still an excellent food choice because they provide a variety of important nutrients.

 

Peanuts contain protein, fiber and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, all of which improve health and lower the risk of chronic disease. In a study conducted with over 15,000 peanut consumers, it was determined that they had higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and dietary fiber than people who did not eat peanuts. These nutrients are needed by the body to function appropriately. Peanuts are high in arginine, an amino acid that is a precursor to nitric oxide, which helps decrease blood pressure. They contain resveratrol which improves longevity and performance as well as reduces inflammation. Peanuts also have phytosterols that work to lower cholesterol and may inhibit cancer development.

 

Peanuts help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Research has shown that they are able to decrease lipid levels and may reduce inflammation, which is a cause of chronic disease. Researchers have also found that mortality decreases as the frequency of eating nuts like peanuts increases.

 

Studies show that peanuts can help you maintain a healthy weight. Peanuts help you to stay full longer, making you less likely to overeat at other times during the day. In one study, it was found that people lose more weight on diets high in healthy unsaturated fats like in peanuts compared to low-fat diets. It is all about eating the right portion and the right type of fat.

 

In addition to all of these wonderful things, peanuts are affordable and easy to find, making them a great addition to a healthy diet. So the next time you get a peanut craving, don’t hesitate to eat a few!

 

Reference:
The Peanut Institute. Health and nutrition research. Retrieved December 17, 2012 from http://www.peanut-institute.org/health-and-nutrition/

 


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