Peanuts are not nuts, contrary to what many think. They belong to the family of legumes, where lentils, chickpeas and beans are found. Unlike nuts, which grow on trees, peanuts grow on the ground and eventually dig beneath it with roots when they are ripe. They have a dense amount of nutrients. In fact, peanut butter is the type of food that is chosen in the expeditions to the poles because of its high content of protein and calories, plus it does not need to be cooked or prepared in any way. It is interesting that, although they are rich in fat, they are composed of those beneficial to the heart. Better still, although they have many calories, consuming peanuts moderately will not encourage weight gain. In fact, according to the publication "Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease" (Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases) of January 2011, consuming nuts in a moderate way can help weight loss.
Peanuts and Heart Health
In 2008, PM Kris-Etherton and colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University analyzed four epidemiological studies conducted by the United States to investigate the effect of peanut consumption and nuts in coronary disease. They found that those who consumed more peanuts and walnuts had an approximately 35% reduced risk of contracting the disease. The authors attribute this to the ability of nuts to lower cholesterol and function as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The nutrients in the nuts and peanuts that cause these effects are the protein, fiber and essential minerals in which magnesium and other components are included that are derived from plants and are called phytonutrients.
Your cholesterol-lowering benefits
A publication that addresses the issue and was published in November 2006 in the "British Journal of Nutrition" analyzed 17 different studies dealing with nut consumption and reported that walnuts significantly lower cholesterol levels. Although this article was about three different types of nuts, the same results as peanuts would be expected. In fact, a 2010 study by M. Ghadimi Nouran and his colleagues at the Shahid Beheshti University in Iran found that those who consumed 77 grams of peanuts with their usual diet for four weeks, would have a significant improvement in their cholesterol levels, because the amount of "bad" cholesterol would be reduced and the amounts of "good" cholesterol would increase.
Atherosclerosis, or thickening of the arteries, occurs when LDL cholesterol in the blood is oxidized or "damaged" by free radicals, which are present in the environment and are also generated by our body.An article in the "Journal of Nutrition" of September 2008 reports that peanuts are rich in vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants that prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. Better still is that much of the fat found in peanuts is monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that does not oxidize and, therefore, does not contribute to atherosclerosis. This is the same type of fat found in olive oil, which is well known for its properties to protect the heart.
Peanuts also contain resveratrol, a phenolic component that is also found in red wine. It is believed that resveratrol is the reason why moderate consumption of red wine is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. According to V. R. Ramprasath and P. J. Jones of the University of Manitoba in Canada, resveratrol has anti-atherogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Ramprasath and Jones report that resveratrol also prevents platelet aggregation (a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes), and can regenerate vitamin E, which strengthens the effects of antioxidants.