Peanuts are More Than Just a Healthy Snack
Peanuts are neither a pea, nor a nut. Technically, they’re legumes, like soybeans. And like soybeans, they’re a good source of protein. But they’re also high in fat, so many people may be under the impression that peanuts are not particularly good for you. If you worry that eating peanuts is bad for your bottom line, worry no more.
New research shows that adding peanuts to your diet could be good for your vascular health. That’s important, because cardiovascular disease is still our number one killer. And most cardiovascular disease begins in the blood vessel linings. Blood vessels are lined with specialized tissue called the endothelium. Scientists believe that the great majority of cardiovascular disease starts in the endothelium. In fact, years before a person can be diagnosed with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, he or she will have suffered—usually for many years—from a process called endothelial dysfunction.
Cholesterol plays a role; especially a form that becomes oxidized. This oxidation can be counteracted by antioxidants in the diet, which is one reason people who eat a diet rich in plant foods tend to be less prone to atherosclerosis. Plant foods contain potent antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that combat cholesterol oxidation and endothelial dysfunction.
Peanuts are among the plant foods that can help. According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, eating peanuts with a meal can help lower your blood levels of fats called triglycerides. High triglyceride levels, especially after meals, are thought to contribute to endothelial dysfunction.
"Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease," said lead researcher Xiaoran Liu, a graduate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. "This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health.”
Of course, peanuts are both nutrient and calorie-dense, so you resist the urge to go, well, nuts. Eat in moderation. But enjoy!
FASEB 2015 press release. Available at: http://www.newswise.com/articles/adding-peanuts-to-a-meal-benefits-vascular-health