Peanuts - A Whole Food but Not a Nut!
Did you know that peanuts are actually legumes (edible seeds enclosed in pods)? I was brought up to believe they were nuts, but no - peanuts grow underground, whereas nuts grow on trees.
The good news is that peanuts and 100% peanut butter contribute to weight loss and weight management as they are high in plant-based protein, high in fibre and low on the GI scale. They promote an increase in the secretion of the appetite suppressing hormone PYY (peptide YY) which makes you feel satisfied, so therefore they keep you feeling fuller for longer.
If eaten frequently, peanuts can reduce the risk of heart disease. As stated by The Peanut Institute, if you eat peanuts five+ times a week, you reduce your risk of heart disease by half.
Also, *according to a study from Harvard, the risk of type 2 diabetes decreases the more high quality plant-based foods such as legumes are consumed. These types of food have “substantial health benefits”.
Pictured here are 10g of dry roasted peanuts.
Nutrient dense, they contain:
A good source of cholesterol-free plant-based protein, peanuts are also a great source of niacin and manganese. They also contain phosphorus, copper and vitamin E.
And to top it off, they are an antioxidant as they contain flavonoids, the same types that are also in green and black tea.
If you do cardiovascular and resistance training, you may be interested to know that peanuts contain arginine - more so than any other whole food! Arginine is an amino acid which is associated with maintaining muscle mass, decreasing blood pressure and body fat, and detoxifying the liver, and improving blood flow by helping to open blood vessels. Arginine is an amino acid that helps to open blood vessels and improve blood flow and circulation.
For those of us who are getting older, there is a bioactive nutrient in peanuts, especially in the skin, which has anti-ageing properties. It is called resveratrol and it protects cells from being damaged.
We all know how important “good” fats are in our diet - peanuts have the correct ratio of fats to ease joint pain that has been caused by use over time and inflammation.
From all of the good fats, macro and micro nutrients, and the fibre in peanuts to the bioactive components, taken in moderation, peanuts (and 100% peanut butter) can help improve your health and exercise performance.
A word of warning, though, for those who are severely allergic to peanuts - reactions to peanuts can occur from ingesting just a trace amount so keep well away from them.