Peanuts go well in many foods, especially snack foods, and are great on their own as well. But because the nuts are often roasted with a lot of oil and salt, it’s easy to dismiss peanuts when thinking about a healthy snack. But as with all things, preparation makes a huge difference in the health value.
In their raw form, peanuts are an excellent source of fiber, protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Recent studies show that this nutritional profile may be linked to protection from diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
So what would happen to your body if you ate peanuts every day? Let’s find out.
1. Easier weight control
The weight loss journey can involve a lot of fuss over diet. You can choose to count carbs or calories, skip certain foods all together, or adhere to a specific ratio of carbs to protein. But wouldn’t it be nice if there were an easier way?
In the end, all you need to do is eat fewer calories than you burn if you’re looking to lose weight. The trick is to make every calorie count. Empty calories that hit your bloodstream in a flash and then evaporate will have you reaching for another snack in no time.
But it takes relatively few peanuts to deliver sustained energy over several hours. The healthy fats and fiber in peanuts means they digest slowly and keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Constant hunger is the fatal flaw in many diets, but don’t starve yourself. Just be smart about food choice and portions.
2. Lower disease risk
There have been multiple studies over the years that tout the benefit of eating peanuts specifically and nuts in general. Eating a diet rich in nuts has been linked to lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes for starters.
Eating nuts may also reduce your risk of dangerous blood clots, lower your cholesterol, and reduce the chances of developing arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
A nut-rich diet may even reverse the effects of metabolic syndrome, which is a set of risk factors – obesity, high cholesterol, high blood glucose, and high blood pressure – that can lead to cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes.
3. Clearer cognition
A recent study published in the JAMA Internalized Medicine journal found that supplementing a Mediterranean diet with a daily dose of nuts can actually help preserve cognitive function as we age.
In the study, cognitively healthy adults with an average age of 67 were asked to supplement a Mediterranean diet with either 30 g of mixed nuts each day or else an extra liter of olive oil per week.
Upon follow-up four years later, the group who ate nuts did significantly better than the control group on tests related to memory. We can’t guarantee that improving your diet with the addition of peanuts will keep you sharper for longer, but these results suggest that it can’t hurt to try!
4. Better digestion and gut health
Fiber is a crucial element in gut health and most of us don’t get enough of it. The type of it in peanuts is soluble fiber, meaning that it reduces into a gel-like substance as it passes through the digestive tract. In the process, it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Though peanuts don’t have the most fiber of any food you can eat – for that, look to produce like raspberries, pears, peas, and broccoli – having at least one snack a day of peanuts can help you get over the finish line with your daily recommended allowance.
5. Longer life
Not for nothing, but scientific study has also found that a diet high in nuts is associated with a 20% reduction in death risk by any cause! The robust study followed 71,764 people in the southern United States and 134,265 people in China, these divided by gender.
All three groups of daily nut eaters (Americans, Chinese men, and Chinese women) experienced a lower risk of total mortality as well as death by cardiovascular disease. Though the study did not control for other lifestyle factors, the results are still highly encouraging.
Adding peanuts to your diet
The most important thing about adding peanuts to your daily diet is to eat the right amount. About 15 grams, or half a handful, seems to be the sweet spot. It provides enough protein and carbs to keep you going for a few hours but not so much fat that it derails your health goals.
Remember to avoid peanuts with too much salt and oil. Raw peanuts have a slight edge in health value and a longer shelf life to boot. However, you won’t be going off the rails with dry roasted and lightly salted varieties if you prefer your peanuts cooked.