March is National Peanut Month

Posted March 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

According to the Peanut Institute, peanuts are the most popular nut choice in the United States. Not only are peanuts well liked, but they offer many health benefits as well according to Chisteena Haynes, a nutrtion and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Despite the fact that peanuts are high in fat, they are still an excellent food choice because they provide a variety of important nutrients,” said Haynes.

Peanuts contain protein, fiber and healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which all improve health and lower the risk of chronic disease. In a study conducted with over 15,000 peanut consumers, it was determined that peanuts had higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and dietary fiber than people who did not eat peanuts.

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 have phytosterols that work to lower cholesterol and may inhibit cancer development.

Haynes notes that peanuts can also 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 found that mortality decreases as the frequency of eating nuts like peanuts increases,” said Haynes.

Studies show that peanuts can help you maintain a healthy weight.

“Peanuts help you to stay fuller for longer; therefore, making you less likely to overeat at other times during the day,” said Haynes.

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,” said Haynes.

For more information on nutrition, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact one of the nutrition and health specialists working in the Ozarks: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545.