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Health Benefits Of Peanuts-Peanuts and Diabetes, Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Cancer

Updated on September 30, 2011

Peanuts Help Control High Cholesterol And Other Common Health Issues

If you are diabetic, or have high cholesterol or triglycerides, peanuts are an ideal snack. They are rich in niacin (vitamin B3), which has been shown to lower triglycerides, while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Peanuts are also a good source of resveratrol. Generally associated with red wine, resveratrol is thought to slow or prevent the formation of arterial plaque. While studies have suggested that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart, it has since been found that peanuts actually contain more resveratrol than wine.

The Health Benefits Of Peanuts - More Evidence

Researchers at Perdue University conducted a study to determine the effects of peanut consumption on overall diet quality. They found that adding just one ounce of peanuts or peanut butter to your daily diet can significantly increase levels of magnesium, folate, fiber, copper, vitamin E, and arginine. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, to a lesser degree. All of these are major factors in preventing heart disease.

The Perdue study also suggested that peanuts can act as an appetite suppressant. A quick snack of peanuts or peanut butter was shown to satisfy hunger for up to two and a half hours, compared to twenty to thirty minutes for those snacking on rice cakes.

The Health Benefits of Peanuts Are Many and Varied
The Health Benefits of Peanuts Are Many and Varied

Peanuts and Cancer

A study at the University of Florida found that peanuts are also rich in antioxidants. These protect your body from heart disease and cancer causing free radicals. One such antioxidant, P-Coumaric acid, was actually found to increase by as much as 22% when the nut was roasted.

Peanuts And Diabetes

In addition to being one of the more potent of foods that lower cholesterol, peanuts make a healthy snack for people with type 2 diabetes. Ideally, the sugar in the food you eat should be digested more slowly than the other nutrients. This helps to avoid a severe insulin response, and lowers stress on the pancreas. With a low glycemic index rating, peanuts help to regulate the rate at which your sugar and insulin levels rise after you eat, and smooths out sugar spikes.

What Is The Glycemic Index?

The Glycemic Index is seen as a scale from 1-100. Its purpose is to rate different foods based on the rate at which your body absorbs the sugar in them. Typically, any food with a GI rating below 55 is considered good. High GI ratings cause your blood glucose and insulin to "roller coaster", which can cause several symptoms including fatigue. When added to or consumed with foods that are high in refined carbs, peanuts can cushion this roller coaster effect.

With a GI rating of 14, a 1/3 cup serving of peanuts or peanut butter is considered very low. Compare this to a small apple, which weighs in at 38 on the Glycemic Index. Here are a few other foods to compare:

  • Raw carrots, GI rating 16
  • Banana, GI rating 52
  • Instant oatmeal, GI rating 66
  • Snack sized bag of pretzels, GI rating 83
  • Medium baked potato, GI rating 85

Some Other Peanut Facts

Latin name: Arachis Hypogaea. Also called goobers, earthnuts, groundnuts, and monkeynuts, peanuts are, in fact, not nuts. They are legumes. Regardless of their name, they are closely related to beans and peas.

Peanuts are used in the manufacture of margarine, cooking oil, soap, and are used in various industrial applications. Their foliage is used for hay, and animal feed.

Native to South America, peanuts are said to have been introduced to Africa by early explorers. They are believed to have been brought to North America by Africans, transported as slaves, where they have been widely cultivated since about the 19th century.

An interesting fact about the plant is that the pod begins to grow above the ground, and is then pushed into the earth through elongation.

Arachis Hypogaea

The Peanut Plant
The Peanut Plant

Are Peanuts Healthier Than Garlic?

While their history is interesting and varied, the health benefits of peanuts are undeniable. As evidence continues to build, they are coming to rival garlic in terms of universal health benefits. Unless you have peanut allergies, which can be deadly, peanuts are a delicious and healthy addition to a balanced diet.

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