Health and Nutrition Research Landing Page
Almost two decades ago, research pointed to the fact that those who frequently ate peanuts had a lower risk of heart disease. The effects are evident in all ages, in male or female, and even in various conditions, such as in those who have diabetes.1–3 Additional population studies have shown that peanuts may be one of the most cardio-protective whole foods that is commonly consumed and enjoyed. Heart disease risk is lowered with increased frequency of peanut consumption in the following studies:
- Adventist Health Study1
- Iowa Women’s Health Study4
- Nurses’ Health Study2
- Physicians’ Health Study5
About a handful of peanuts eaten five or more times a week can cut the risk of heart disease in half.5 Even eating peanuts just twice a week can reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 24%.6 So, adding a small amount of peanuts to your diet can have preventative effects similar to that of certain prescription drugs!
Peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides, while keeping “good” HDL cholesterol high. A controlled human study of diets high in either peanut oil, peanuts and peanut butter, or olive oil, all of which are high in monounsaturated fat (MUFA), showed that total and bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides were lowered, while maintaining good HDL cholesterol.7 In this study, a low-fat (STEP II) diet was also compared, and although cholesterol levels decreased with this diet, triglycerides were raised. Similar effects were observed in a 2013 study – participants who ate peanuts, even peanuts of different flavors, had lower levels of total cholesterol and triglyceride.8
Peanuts have low amounts of saturated fat, which is found in many animal products, and have no trans fat at all. A study by the US Department of Agriculture found that levels of trans fat are non-detectable in all types of peanut butter, and yes, even the creamy kind.9
After much scientific evidence regarding the positive health benefits of peanuts and nuts, the US Food and Drug Administration released a health claim in 2003 that states, "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”10
When peanuts are included in the diet as a protein source, studies show that blood pressure is lowered, which also may benefit heart disease risk. Peanuts have a unique mix of functional components, vitamins, and minerals that help the body prevent heart disease. So, do yourself a favor and continue to enjoy peanuts and peanut butter each day!
- Fraser GE, Shavlik DJ. Risk factors for all-cause and coronary heart disease mortality in the oldest-old. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(19):2249–2258.
- Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 1998;317(7169):1341–1345.
- Li TY, Brennan AM, Wedick NM, Mantzoros C, Rifai N, Hu FB. Regular consumption of nuts is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women with type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2009;139(7):1333–1338.
- Kushi LH, Folsom AR, Prineas RJ, Mink PJ, Wu Y, Bostick RM. Dietary antioxidant vitamins and death from coronary heart disease in postmenopausal women. N Engl J Med. 1996;334(18):1156–1162.
- Albert CM, Gaziano JM, Willett WC, Manson JE. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians’ Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1382–1387.
- Bao Y, Han J, Hu FB, et al. Association of nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(21):2001–2011.
- Kris-Etherton PM, Pearson TA, Wan Y, et al. High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(6):1009–1015.
- Jones JB, Provost M, Keaver L, Breen C, Ludy M-J, Mattes RD. A randomized trial on the effects of flavorings on the health benefits of daily peanut consumption. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013.
- Sanders TH. Non-detectable levels of trans-fatty acids in peanut butter. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(5):2349–2351.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Labeling & Nutrition - Summary of Qualified Health Claims Subject to Enforcement Discretion. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm072926.htm.