March is National Peanut month. Those yummy, crunchy and nutty peanuts are one of the most popular oilseeds. They are technically not nuts. They are actually legumes and therefore related to beans, lentils and soy. Despite being a legume family they carry almost all the qualities of other popular edible nuts such as almonds, walnuts, etc. Here are a few of the many noteworthy health benefits of peanuts:
- A study in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that eating either peanuts of peanut butter as part of your breakfast can control blood sugar throughout most of the day.
- Studies show that peanuts may be useful for weight loss
- They are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Research conducted by a team of University of Florida scientists, published in the Journal Food Chemistry, shows that peanuts contain high concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols.
- Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and magnesium.
- Resveratrol is a flavonoid found in peanuts. In laboratory animal studies published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, this phytonutrient has been determined to improve blood flow in the brain by as much as 30%, potentially reducing the risk for stroke.
- A number of studies have shown that nutrients found in peanuts, including folic acid, phytosterols, phytic acid and reservatrol, may have anti-cancer effects.
- A Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who ate at least 1 ounce of nuts, peanuts or peanut butter each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones
Here are a few ways you can get peanuts into your diet on a regular basis:
- Old stand by a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Spread peanut butter on your morning waffle, whole grain toast or crackers
- Put a teaspoon of peanut butter in your smoothie
- Enjoy a handful as part of a snack
- Toss cooked brown rice with sesame oil, chopped peanuts, scallions, sweet red peppers, parsley and currants
- Toss some peanuts on your oatmeal or salad
When purchasing peanut butter, be sure to read the label. Hydrogenated fats and sugar are often added. Buy organic and choose brands that contain peanuts, salt and nothing else.