Peanuts are powerhouses for healing and preventing disease. The proof might have been in the PB for a long time now. But now we have the whole nut, so to speak.
Recent research finds that peanuts reduce the risk of early death from heart disease, cancer and a host of other conditions. Peanuts even drop the risk of early death from any cause.
I have been a fan of peanuts for many years. Peanuts and unsweetened peanut butter have continued to offer me and millions of other ‘peanut heads’ antioxidant healing benefits packaged within a convenient complete protein snack or meal.
Peanuts also provide many other nutrients. It is for this reason that peanut butter is a primary ingredient food used to save children with Severe Acute Malnutrition – or SAM.
Yes, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF and other agencies have brought millions of starving children back from the brink using a combination of peanut butter and powdered milk. They found that many other foods don’t work so fast – but peanut butter does for some reason. Many have dubbed peanut butter a “miracle food” as a result.
Let’s discuss some of peanuts’ nutritional advantages before digging into peanuts’ vital stats.
Peanuts are only one essential amino acid short of being a complete protein. A complete protein means the food contains all nine essential amino acids. Peanuts contain all but one – methionine.
However, when peanuts or peanut butter are combined with a grain – such as whole wheat bread or oats – the combination provides us with a complete protein meal or snack.
After all, who eats peanut butter alone?
Peanuts are packed with protein. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter will provide a solid 8 grams of protein. A considerable amount of your day’s protein needs.
Peanuts are packed with more than 30 other nutrients. These include healthy doses of minerals, including magnesium (346 milligrams per cup of peanut butter), calcium (111 mg), potassium (1674 mg), zinc (7.5 mg), copper (1.2 mg), selenium (14 mcg), iron (4.8 mg) and phosphorus (924 mg).
Peanuts also contain decent levels of vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, choline and betaine.
Peanuts also contain considerable omega-3 fatty acids, at 196 milligrams, and over 61 grams of monounsaturated fats. Furthermore, peanuts also contain sterols – an incredibly healthy type of fat that helps reduce low-density lipoprotein levels (LDL-c). Sterols also produce antioxidant effects among the fat portions of our metabolism.
Researchers from a consortium of universities, including Harvard University, Oslo University, Imperial College of London, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, University of Leeds and others investigated the effects of eating peanuts and tree nuts.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis study that analyzed 20 different studies and 819,448 human participants. These included studies that tested nut consumption on rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and respiratory diseases. And yes, deaths from any cause.
Among this large population, the researchers found 12,331 cases of coronary heart disease, 9,272 cases of stroke, 18,655 cases of cardiovascular disease, 18,490 cancer cases and 85,870 total deaths.
The researchers found that increasing peanut or other nut consumption by 28 grams per day reduced the incidence of:
• Coronary heart disease by 29 percent
• Stroke by 7 percent
• Cardiovascular disease by 19 percent
• Cancer by 15 percent
• Respiratory deaths by 51 percent
• Diabetes by 39 percent
• Neurodegenerative diseases by 35 percent
• Infectious diseases by 75 percent
• Kidney disease by 63 percent
• Deaths from any cause by 22 percent
The researchers noted that the meta-analysis results for the effects of peanuts were similar to that of tree nuts.
The one area that stood out as different was all-cause mortality and peanut butter. Consuming peanut butter did not get the same results as eating whole peanuts for death by any cause. The researchers hypothesized that the added sugar or salt in many commercial peanut butters may explain this anomaly.
As mentioned, this was a meta-analysis of multiple studies. Some of these were quite large.
An example of one of these is a 2015 study from The Netherlands’ Maastricht University. In this study, 120,852 Danish men and women aged between 55 and 69 years old were followed since 1986.
The research found similar results as quoted in the meta-analysis, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and neurogenerative diseases. They also found peanut consumption decreased all-cause mortality, but not peanut butter.
Another 2015 study, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, followed 71,764 U.S. residents between 2002 and 2009. It also followed 134,265 men and women from China. This study found that peanuts reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, stroke and all-cause mortality.
The reductions in heart disease among these groups were pretty significant. This includes a 46 percent reduction in heart disease for Chinese people. And 40 percent reduction in heart disease among African-American men and women.
On the latter: Yes, peanuts and unsweetened peanut butter incurs a reduced glycemic response. For example, a study from Brazil’s Federal University of Viçosa tested 15 obese women. They compared their blood sugar levels after eating breakfast meals with and without peanut butter.
They found that including peanut butter with breakfast reduced their blood sugar and steadied their glycemic response for the day. It also helped reduce their appetites throughout the day. The researchers concluded:
“Inclusion of peanut butter, and probably whole peanuts, to breakfast may help to moderate glucose concentrations and appetite in obese women.”
Other studies have found similar effects of peanuts. Some studies have also found that peanuts reduce body fat.
These results indicate that peanuts fall into the category of plant medicines. This includes such medicinal roots like turmeric, ginseng and carrots. Now it’s not that peanuts maintain the same healing properties and the same medicinal compounds as these. But peanuts do promote similarly incredible effects upon our health.
I say this also because I am sure that more medicinal effects of peanuts will soon be exposed by research. The ability to reduce rates of heart disease and cancer and other conditions doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Currently, most research on peanuts – outside of the studies discussed here – have focused upon either peanut allergies or peanuts’ improved glycemic response.
Yes, a small fraction of people have peanut allergies. Only about 0.6 percent of Americans. But as I discuss in my book on the topic, there are some scientifically-backed ways to reverse food allergies.
Yes, I did say reverse. Most of the advice on food allergies is to stay away from the offending food. This means missing out on a food that could have medicinal effects – such as peanuts.
My book shows how to turn around food allergies. How to get the body to tolerate – and even be invigorated by – medicinal foods like peanuts.
I am a big peanut butter fan. But only when it’s unsweetened and absent of oils or other homogenizing agents. These don’t just counteract the healing benefits of peanuts.
The added sugar and oils can in themselves contribute to heart disease and other conditions. As discussed elsewhere in this publication: Refined sugar has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
Depending upon the type of oil added, these are used to homogenize the butter. This can reduce our body’s ability to break down and absorb the nutrients in the peanuts.
The best form of peanut butter is simple: Peanuts run through a nut grinder. This produces the tastiest and freshest form of peanut butter. There are nut grinding machines you can buy. But many health food stores provide raw or roasted peanuts along with a nut grinder. Takes less than a minute. Just pour in the nuts and out comes the butter.
For store-bought peanut butter, look for this on the ingredient panel: “Peanuts and salt.” I don’t recommend unsalted peanut butter unless it is freshly ground. The salt adds flavor and keeps the peanut butter from going stale. Besides, the amount of salt added is typically minimal. And eating more salt is not nearly as bad for you as has been suggested.
Now this type of peanut butter will likely come with oil settled on the top of the jar. Don’t be discouraged. This can actually be a good thing, as it will allow you to pour out some of the oil if you want to reduce the peanut butter’s fat content.
Be careful of pouring out too much of the oil, however. You need oil to blend with the rest of the jar so you can spread it. So don’t pour out more than about half the oil on the top. Pouring out a third of the oil is probably best – leaving plenty to stir in.
Stirring the peanut butter is no big thing either. You only have to do it once – when you just open the jar. It should remain blended for the rest of the jar.
I find the easiest way to stir the oil into the peanut butter is with a fork. A knife will take a bit longer and won’t penetrate the oil as well. A quick stir with a long fork will usually do the trick.
Then you can lick the fork clean. Yum.
Agune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, Fadnes LT, Boffetta P, Greenwood DC, Tonstad S, Vatten LJ, Riboli E, Norat T. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease,total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC Med. 2016 Dec
Luu HN, Blot WJ, Xiang YB, Cai H, Hargreaves MK, Li H, Yang G, Signorello L, Gao YT, Zheng W, Shu XO. Prospective evaluation of the association of nut/peanut consumption and mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 May;175(5):755-66. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8347.
van den Brandt PA, Schouten LJ. Relationship of tree nut, peanut and peanut butter intake with total and cause-specific mortality: a cohort study and meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol. 2015 Jun;44(3):1038-49.
Reis CE, Ribeiro DN, Costa NM, Bressan J, Alfenas RC, Mattes RD. Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response and appetite in obese women with high type 2 diabetes risk: a randomised cross-over clinical trial. Br J Nutr. 2013 Jun;109(11):2015-23. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512004217.
Moore M. The Miracle Food. Huffington Post. Accessed Jan 4, 2017
New Study Shows Small Serving of Peanuts Reduces Chronic Disease and Death Risk. PR Newswire Press Release. Dec. 7, 2016
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