There are many reasons to enjoy peanuts and peanut-based products like peanut butter and extra virgin peanut oil, but the one major effect of eating peanuts is that they may help you live longer.
Yes, you read that right. America’s favorite nut is one of the most nutritious foods you can enjoy and can add years to your life.
Peanuts pack in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and more than 25 essential nutrients from B-vitamins and essential amino acids to minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. They also provide a wide variety of bioactive compounds that have been shown in studies to aid heart health and other benefits.
Peanuts are a true superfood: An ounce of peanuts (about a handful) provides 7 grams of high-quality, plant-based protein to your diet. Because the protein in peanuts is plant-based, it carries with it additional components promoting positive health benefits like fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial phytonutrients. Studies show that several of the phytonutrients increase when peanuts are boiled or roasted, making them even healthier.
The fat in peanuts is primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both of which are known to help reduce the risk for heart disease. Health authorities including the American Heart Association recommend eating unsaturated fats in lieu of saturated fats which are found in foods like butter, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats.
Peanuts are particularly filling and can help with weight management, thanks to their fiber and protein counts. The dynamic duo of protein and fiber helps slow down digestion to help tamp down hunger and up the satiety of your meals and snacks.
Studies show that high-quality protein helps to regulate hunger hormones and fiber enhances the feeling of fullness and helps individuals maintain a healthy weight. This is likely the reason why those who enjoy peanuts and other nuts frequently are less likely to be overweight or obese, compared to individuals who do not report eating peanuts or nuts frequently.
One study published in JAMA reported that peanuts may help you live a longer, healthier life. The researchers found that study participants who reported enjoying peanuts and other nuts were substantially less likely to have died of any cause—particularly heart disease—over the study period. One of the major benefits of peanuts cited was how affordable they are compared to tree nuts. Several other large, studies with thousands of participants have also concluded that peanuts, as part of a healthy plant-based diet can help you add more years to your life.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD
Julie Upton is an award-winning registered dietitian and communications specialist who has written thousands of articles for national media outlets, including The New York Times, US News & World Report, and USA Today. Read more