Peanut Power
By Vera Tweed
Keep your body in tune for peanuts a day.

Will a peanut a day keep the doctor away? Not quite, but an ounce might. Peanuts help control blood pressure and cholesterol, manage blood sugar, prevent diabetes, reduce hunger, and keep extra pounds away. And let’s not forget—they’re fun.

You’ve probably heard that high-glycemic foods, the lovable starchy ones like white bread and all the sugary ones like cookies, aren’t the most healthful; they rapidly convert to blood sugar, promoting inflammation and increasing risk for diabetes and heart disease. But adding peanuts to any of these will slow the conversion process, producing more stable energy levels, delaying hunger pangs, and reducing cravings. Less body fat goes hand in hand.

New Research
Peanuts are rich in healthful fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which helps control blood pressure and reduce risk for diabetes. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that eating 1 ounce of peanuts or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, five or more times weekly, reduced risk for diabetes by 27 and 21 percent, respectively.

Studies published in the International Journal of Obesity found that peanuts and peanut butter were more satisfying than low-calorie, high-carbohydrate snacks such as rice cakes. And people who added peanuts to their diets spontaneously reduced their caloric intake from other foods and lost weight. Another study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that habitual peanut consumers had higher metabolisms and weighed less than peanut abstainers.

Picking Peanut Butters
Avoid products made with unhealthful added oils and sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup. Choose no-salt or low-salt versions.

Healthful Serving Sizes
For shelled peanuts, the serving is 1 ounce (a small handful or about 40 peanuts). Peanut butter is about 2 tablespoons (about the size of a ping-pong ball).

Ways to Enjoy

  • Sprinkle roasted peanuts on salads and soups, or add to vegetable and grain side dishes.
  • Add crushed or chopped peanuts to French toast or other recipes for batters or crusts.
  • Use peanut butter as a flavorful thickener for sauces and vinaigrettes.
  • Spread on celery sticks or slices of banana, apple, or other fruit; add to smoothies and puddings.

Gourmet Twists on a Classic
The peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be an American tradition, but chefs at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in California’s Napa Valley, created these international variations:

  • Mediterranean BLT: Spread peanut butter and pomegranate syrup on whole-grain bread, and sprinkle with smoked Spanish paprika. Add crispy prosciutto, butter lettuce, and tomato.
  • Asian Shrimp: Mix peanut butter with soy or hoisin sauce and fresh ginger juice. Add a touch of chili sauce, if desired. Spread the mixture on rice cakes. Top with cooked shrimp, thinly sliced lengthwise, and daikon sprouts. Garnish with slices of pickled ginger. Serve open-faced.
  • Mexican Wrap: Spread a mixture of peanut butter and mole or chipotle sauce on a flour tortilla. Add avocado slices, diced radish, shredded romaine lettuce, and crumbled Mexican cheese (choose queso fresco or substitute very mild feta), and wrap.



Product Examples (below, left to right):

Sunfood Nutrition Organic Wild Amazonian Jungle Peanuts: The world’s original heirloom peanut from deep within the heart of the Ecuadoran rain forest. Makes a perfect snack.

One serving of Hearts & Minds Peanut Butter with Olive Oil and Omega-3 contains 6 g of heart-healthy olive oil.

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