While many people know peanuts are beneficial for their health, some are wary of eating too many because of the high fat content.
And, while it’s true to say there’s more fat in a peanut butter sandwich than in a McDonald’s cheeseburger, peanut butter is certainly not a dietary evil.
Overall, the nutritional composition of peanuts is extremely good.
Even the fat is ‘good,’ being mostly in the form of monounsaturated fat.
They also provide an excellent source of protein, vitamin E, and fibre (which is more than we can say for the cheeseburger!).
In fact, research confirms that eating a portion of peanuts, or peanut butter, everyday may help reduce the risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and gallbladder disease, without the risk of weight gain.
10 interesting facts about peanuts…
- Peanuts are not nuts. These are actually a pulse and belongs in the legume family along with peas, beans and lentils.
- Peanuts grow under the ground, not on trees.
- Peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil are excellent sources of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil. More than 75% of the total fat content is unsaturated.
- Peanuts are 25% protein.
- Peanuts contain resveratrol, plant sterols and other phytochemicals which research is indicating have cardio-protective and cancer inhibiting properties.
- Peanuts and peanut butter contain beneficial minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium.
- Peanuts and peanut butter contain B-vitamins, folate and Vitamin E.
- Peanuts and peanut butter are natural sources of soluble and insoluble fibre.
- Peanuts and peanut butter are plant foods and contain no cholesterol.
- Peanuts have a very low glycemic index (14).
So, peanuts and peanut butter make an excellent healthy snack option.
They are much more filling than other lower fat options, such as rice cakes, meaning hunger is tamed for much longer, and therefore you feel like eating less in the long-run.
So, what is a serving of peanuts and peanut butter?
- One serving of peanuts is equivalent to a small handful
- A serving of peanut butter is roughly two tablespoons
You should take care with reduced fat peanut butter options, however, because they do tend to be much higher in sugar to compensate for the loss of taste when they take out the fat.
Here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy peanuts without the guilt factor:
Go for the natural version of peanut butter if you can find it.
Check out your local health food store where you can often make your own peanut butter, or go for one of the ‘natural’ varieties without hydrogenated oils.
- Sprinkle a handful of peanuts over your salad at lunch.
- Snack on celery sticks with nut butter for an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Use peanut oil in salad dressings.
- Add half peanut flour in your baked recipes.
- Or simply enjoy a small handful of peanuts as a healthy snack.
Do you eat peanuts? How do you include them in your weekly diet?
Interested in more? Read the 12 nuts and seeds you should add to your diet.