Peanuts Contain Significant Amount of Plant Compound Resveratrol That May Prevent Risk of Heart Disease and Cancer
New research funded by The Peanut Institute and conducted by a team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that peanuts are another rich dietary source of heart-healthy resveratrol. Recent studies on this plant compound found in red wine and grapes show that resveratrol may help reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer.
The research results on peanuts were presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada by Dr. Tim Sanders from the USDA Agricultural Research Service in North Carolina. Dr. Sanders, and his colleague, Dr. Robert W. McMichael, Jr., found that peanuts have a significant amount of resveratrol in both the kernel and skin. The average amount of resveratrol
in one ounce of peanuts (without skin) is 73 mcg/g. In comparison, red wine contains approximately 160 mcg/fluid ounce.
Resveratrol's presence in red wine has been associated with reduced risk of heart attack and it has been credited as a factor in the "French Paradox" (despite a high-fat diet, the French have a surprisingly low rate of heart disease). More recently, research using resveratrol extracted from
grapes showed a reduced risk of cancer in animals.
It is not yet known exactly how resveratrol functions as a healthful factor in food. Some research has shown that resveratrol can inhibit the build-up of platelets in blood vessels. It is also a potent antioxidant which can reduce the oxidation of LDL which in turn will lower cholesterol.
This new USDA research appears to support epidemiological studies that show nuts may reduce the risk of heart attack by more than half when eaten frequently in small amounts. There may be several factors in peanuts that contribute to this healthy heart effect.
Jeff Johnson, president of The Peanut Institute, said, "We always felt that peanuts were a powerhouse of nutrients. Now we are excited by having the USDA research team quantify this information on resveratrol for the first time."
The Peanut Institute is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to supporting nutrition research, education, and the assessment of healthful eating patterns throughout the human life cycle. For further information call 1-888-8PEANUT.
Eat Peanuts to Get Folic Acid
Eating enough of the B vitamin, folic acid, in the first weeks of pregnancy can prevent certain disabling birth defects. Additionally, studies show that folic acid consumption may aid in decreasing incidence of stroke and heart attacks among the elderly.
With these findings in mind the Government recommends increased folic acid consumption. Women of childbearing age, according to FDA, should consume 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. On average most only get half that amount of fploc acid. A peanut butter sandwich or a snack of peanuts are an easy tasty way to incorporate more folic acid into the diet. For example a one ounce serving of peanuts delivers as much as 17.5% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of folic acid. When spread on enriched bread, peanut
butter delivers even more folic acid.
Eating enough folic acid can cut by up to 50 percent a woman's risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect in which the brain and spinal cord form improperly. In addition to peanuts and peanut butter other sources of folic acid are enriched bread and grains, citrus fruits and dark
Peanuts, Good For People With Diabetes
Peanuts have a low Glycemic Index, which makes them an appropriate food for diabetic diets.
The Glycemic Index measures a food's potential for raising or lowering blood sugar levels. Whitebread is used as the reference with an index of 100. To compare, peanuts have a desirable low response level of 13. The lower the level, the better.
Blood sugar levels can regulate appetites, energy, moods and control the way food is turned into fat or fuel. Low response foods such as peanuts boost energy levels, burn off calories and build muscle.
In addition to being a low response food, peanuts' good taste and portability make them a favorite snack of diabetic (and non-diabetic) recreational athletes for maintaining their energy levels.
MODERATE FAT DIET WITH PEANUTS AND PEANUT BUTTER KEEPS WEIGHT OFF SAYS HARVARD STUDY
Albany, GA, October 5, 2001 -- Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have found that three times as many people were able to stick to a healthy moderate fat weight loss diet than those following the traditionally recommended low fat diet. Furthermore, they were able to keep the weight off for over 18 months, had better nutritional
intakes and were more satisfied because they could eat some of their favorite foods each day such as peanut butter, nuts and healthy oils, in a healthy Mediterranean-style eating pattern. The landmark study was just released in the International Journal of Obesity.
Only one in five subjects could stick to the low fat diet versus more than half who stuck to the moderate fat diet. Both groups lost an average of 11 pounds in the first year. What makes this study revolutionary is that only the moderate fat group kept a significant amount of weight off for 18 months, whereas the low fat group did not. The moderate fat group was followed for an
additional year (2 1/2 years total) and still kept a significant amount of weight off.
Half of the 101 overweight men and women in the study were instructed to eat a low fat diet (20% calories from fat) and half to eat a Mediterranean-style moderate fat diet (35% calories from fat, mostly monounsaturated from peanut butter, peanuts, mixed gourmet nuts, olive, canola and
peanut oils). All participants were given dietary advice to eat a diet of approximately 1200-1500 calories that was low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Kathy McManus, MS, RD, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital and co-investigator of the study, says, "Any low calorie diet can work in the short run, but we need to know what kind of eating pattern can sustain long-term weight loss -- which is key to preventing chronic disease. The subjects substituted high saturated fat foods, like butter, with healthy monounsaturated fat foods, like peanut butter. They tossed nuts on their salad instead of croutons and used small amounts of full fat salad dressings. My patients loved this diet because they could include favorite foods if they carefully watched portion sizes."
Successful dieters in the Mediterranean-style moderate fat group increased peanut butter consumption by almost a serving (2 tablespoons) per day, increased peanut consumption by a half a serving (1/2 ounce or a small handful) and mixed nuts by almost a half a serving over their baseline diets. Other foods such as healthy oils (olive, peanut and canola) and avocados were added in small amounts. Surprisingly, those on the moderate fat diet increased consumption of vegetables by one serving per day. Intake of fiber, which most Americans don't get enough of, was also increased significantly, and the moderate fat group tended to eat more protein compared to their baseline diets. In contrast, the low fat group decreased their consumption of vegetables and fiber compared to baseline.
One of the study's success stories, Doralene Davis, of Boston, MA, is living proof that this can be a diet for life. She has now stuck with the healthy moderate fat diet for over two and a half years and has lost about 50 pounds and kept it off. She says, "I don't feel dprived like I did in my past attempts at fad diets. This meal plan is easy to follow and I can still use it at restaurants and social gatherings. And, I can eat my favorite breakfast -- peanut butter on whole wheat toast with bananas."
Frank Sacks, MD, professor of heart disease prevention at Harvard School of Public Health and co-investigator of the study, says, "Our health care system will become bankrupt unless we can find a diet that will help Americans lose and kept weight off. Our study shows that this healthy moderate fat diet offers a successful alternative to the conventional low fat weight loss diet." Experts agree that losing even 10 to 20 pounds can make a significant difference in heart disease prevention.
Despite decades of advice to the public to decrease total fat consumption, incidence of obesity is at epidemic levels in the U.S. and many other developed nations around the world. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over 60% of the adult U.S. population are overweight or obese. An increasing incidence of obesity is also on the rise for children. Overweight and obesity are associated with major chronic illnesses, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, certain forms of cancer, and all-cause mortality.
Peanuts and peanut butter also contain fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, and many micronutrients important to health. Research studies have shown that peanuts and peanut butter can be part of a lower cholesterol diet and that they have a strong satiety value, keeping hunger at bay longer than some other low fat, high carbohydrate foods.
It's Full of Fat and Helps You Lose Weight-
Gourmet nuts are chocked full of healthy nutrients. Knowing how to make them part of your diet can help you reap all kinds of health benefits.
For years, savvy dieters have shunned nuts because of their high-fat content. But dieters can rejoice. The healthy heart fats, high fiber, and phytochemical content of gourmet nuts have catapulted these nutritious nuggets into health food heaven. The key is portion control.
Over the past several years, numerous studies have shown the healthful nature of gourmet nuts. Nuts are a powerhouse of good nutrition, packed with protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. And they help reduce the risks of heart attack and help stop diabetes and help control weight.
Bad fats that pose health problems come primarily from saturated and trans fats, neither of which are found in most gourmet nuts. Instead, most gourmet nuts are loaded with good fats: -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some gourmet nuts, such as walnuts, boast a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, similar to salmon.
In July 2003, the FDA approved the first qualified health claim. Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat to help lower cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart attack, the FDA says.
Packaging for walnuts, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios can now proudly make this claim. Cashews and macadamia nuts did not qualify for the health claim due to their higher fat content.
Pump Up the Heart
The healthy fats appear to be the secret gourmet nut ingredient that prevents heart attack Adding to the power of the healthy fats, the fiber in nuts has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels.
"Our epidemiological studies have shown eating about one ounce of gourmet nuts every day will reduce the risk of heart attack in the long run by 30%," Frank Hu, MD, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in July 2003.
Nuts can also help lower cholesterol and raise HDL "good" cholesterol. "Almost all tyes of gourmet nuts have high amounts of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, and when you substitute this kind of good fat for carbohydrates and saturated fat, you will lower cholesterol " Hu said
There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the U.S., but research suggests that nuts may lower the risk. Women who eat nuts at least five times a week had a 30% reduction in diabetes risk over women who never ate nuts, according to a study in the Nov. 27, 2002, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers are not sure if it is the fiber, magnesium, healthy fat, or phytochemicals responsible for the lowered risk.
Dream Come True
To find a food that is delicious, nutritious, and filling is a dieter's dream.
Several studies have shown that eating small amounts of nuts helps dieters lose weight because the fiber and protein help dieters feel full longer. Dieters are less like to overeat and more successful at losing weight.
Dieters also stick with their eating plans longer if nuts are included, according to a December 1999 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dieters did not feel like they were on a diet when they were allowed to eat nuts.
Other studies have shown that women who snack on nuts tend to weigh less than those who do not.
1 Ounce, Not 1 Pound
When you add nuts to your diet, you add the health benefits but you also add calories.
The goal is to eat nuts instead of other fat sources in the diet. Maureen Ternus, RD, nutrition expert for the International Tree Nut Council, recommends substituting nuts for other, less nutrient-dense foods.
"It is important to decrease calories from other sources, otherwise extra calories from nuts can negate the health benefits by leading to weight gain," she advises.
A 1 oz serving of nuts contains between 160 and 200 calories, most of which come from the healthy heart, monounsaturated fat.
The size of a 1 oz serving of nuts also varies depending on the type of nut. That's about 47 shelled pistachios, 30 peanuts, 24 almonds, 20 pecan halves or hazelnuts, and 14 walnut halves.
People usually eat nuts on their own, by the handful, which can be a dangerous practice. You won't feel deprived when you top your apple or celery slices with peanut butter. Keep portions small and avoid mindless eating.
Pre-portion nuts in small bags -- a great snack to take on the go or to the office. Choose nuts in the shell; you will probably eat fewer since it takes time to crack them. Take a handful and put the package away before you start munching. Sprinkle nuts on a soup or salad instead of croutons or cheese. Snack on nuts instead of pretzels or chips. Top yogurt with nuts instead of granola.
Add the delicious flavor and crunch of nuts to all kinds of foods from sweet to savory. Toasting them first will bring out their flavor and enhance a simple dish.
Top hot or cold cereal with gourmet nuts for a nourishing breakfast. Sprinkle gourmet nuts on top of nonfat yogurt. Pasta comes alive when sprinkled with chopped nuts. Slivered almonds do wonders for everything from chicken to desserts. Add crunch and satiety to bread, pancakes, waffles, or muffins with nuts. Mix nuts with light cream cheese for a delicious spread. Add gourmet nuts to popcorn for a tasty snack. Enhance the flavor of steamed veggies with a handful of gourmet nuts. Don't forget that peanuts are an excellent food source of vitamin E. They also provide approximately 2 grams of fiber per ounce, and have relatively high amounts of folic acid, thiamin, niacin, copper, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc. They are high in plant protein and the fat content is primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both"good fats".
Go nuts with 1 oz. of nuts per day. You'll reap all kinds of health benefits.
Published Jan. 27, 2005.
SOURCES: The New England Journal of Medicine, 1996. Archives of Internal Medicine, July 1992.
News release, FDA. Frank Hu, MD, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology,
Harvard School of Public Health. Maureen Ternus, MS, RD, nutrition coordinator, International
Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. Kris-Etherton, et al. American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition; December 1999. Hu, F. and Willett, W. The Journal of the American
Medical Association, Nov. 27, 2002. Jiang et al. The Journal of the American Medical Association,
Nov. 27, 2002. British Medical Journal, Nov. 14, 1998. Lopez et al. Diabetes Care, January 2004.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 5, 2005.