Peanuts & Your Heart

Page created by Caroline L. Young, MS, RD, LD, RYT

Did You Know? 

Since the 90’s, peanuts have a qualified health claim that says: Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, including peanuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

That’s powerful stuff, since heart disease remains the number one killer in Americans. And research linking what we eat to our heart health continues to grow! But in the world of nutrition research, there is only one constant – change. As soon as a conclusion is drawn from one study, there will be another study with a different result. BUT studies continue to prove the link between peanut consumption and reduced risk of heart disease.

Here’s what recent research suggests:

As in all research, the recent studies have their limitations. In study one[1], there were some differences in study populations. For example, while most studies included both genders, three included men only and five included women only.

In study two[2], the population was limited to white health professionals. And both studies two and three[3] used dietary data gathered through self-reported food frequency questionnaires, which are subject to human error. 

Additionally, the studies were not randomized, controlled trials -- the gold standard in research. In other words, there were no direct interventions, so the studies do not show a cause-and-effect relationship between nut and peanut consumption.  Instead, study one was a review of previous studies and the other two studies looked at data over a period of time. In other words, we are unable to say, “Eating peanuts prevents heart disease,” but we can say, “Eating peanuts is linked to reduced heart disease risk or improved heart health.”

Here’s what the original research from the 90's showed:

Like the studies above, the older studies have their limitations. For instance, in study one[4] and study three[5], the populations were made up of Seventh-Day Adventists, so the results can only be somewhat applicable to the general population. 

And study two[6], along with the other two studies, used dietary data gathered through self-reported food frequency questionnaires, which are subject to human error. 

Like the newer studies, the older studies were also not randomized, controlled trials -- the gold standard in research. Again, they show an association between peanut consumption and heart health (i.e. “Peanut consumption is linked to reduced risk of heart disease”), but not a causation (i.e. “Eating peanuts will prevent heart disease”).

To delve deeper into the research around peanuts and cardiovasuclar health, click here

Which nutrients in peanuts are good for your heart? 

Here are four nutrients found in peanuts that have a link to heart health:

  • Fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.[7]Just one ounce of peanuts delivers 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV).
  • Magnesium is necessary for many body processes, including regulating blood pressure and maintaining a regular heartbeat, and there is some researching showing a positive association between heart health and peanut consumption.[8][9]One ounce of peanuts provides 13 percent of the DV for magnesium.
  • Unsaturated (“good”) Fat lowers LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol, of which high levels can be detrimental to heart health. There are two types of unsaturated fat – mono and poly, and peanuts have both.[10]
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids (a type of poly-unsaturated fat), along with omega-3 fatty acids, may help reduce risk of heart disease when replacing saturated fat (found in animal products).[11]The poly-unsaturated fats in peanuts are omega-6s.
Try Out Our Meal & Snack Ideas!
  • Mash two tablespoons of peanut butter with one quarter cup of blackberries and spread on toast or a bagel, and serve with a glass of milk for a complete breakfast.
  • Sprinkle an ounce of crushed peanuts over one cup of chilled carrot soup for a refreshing lunch (serve with a side of bread).
  • Try our Sriracha Shrimp Peanut Bowlfor dinner. 
  • Make your own GORP by mixing dry roasted peanuts with bite sized dried fruit – great grab-and-go snack!
  • Spread peanut butter on apples for a filling mid- morning or afternoon snack.
  • Blend peanut butter into a smoothie for added creaminess and a boost of energy.

Find more delicious recipes here

What’d You Learn? 

Test your knowledge.

When was research first published linking heart health and nut/peanut consumption?

In the early 1990’s. 

When was the most recent research published linking heart health and nut/peanut consumption?

2017! – Research continues to support the association, despite constant changes in nutrition science.

Does eating peanuts prevent heart disease?

No, but research shows that including peanuts in the diet is associated with improved heart health.

Which type of fat is most predominant in peanuts?

Unsaturated (“good”) fat. Peanuts have both mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. 

Why is this type of fat good for our hearts?

It has been shown to decrease LDL (unhealthy cholesterol). High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.[12]

What other nutrients are in peanuts that may benefit heart health?

Magnesium and fiber are the other main nutrients that have been linked to heart health.

 

 

[1]Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC Medicine. 2016;14(1). doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3.

[2]Guasch-Ferre M, Liu X, Malik, V, et al. Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am CollCardiol.2017; 70:2519-2532.

[3]Luu H, Blot W, Xiang Y-B, et al. Prospective Evaluation of the Association of Nut/Peanut Consumption With Total and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA. 2015;175(5):755-766

[4]Fraser, G. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Archives of Internal Medicine.1992;152:1416-1224.

[5]Fraser, G. Effect of risk factor values on lifetime risk of and age at first coronary event. The Adventist Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology.1995;152:746-758.

[6]Hu, F. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal.1998.317:1341-1345.

[7]Dietary Fiber. FDA.gov. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Dietary_Fiber.pdf. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

[8]Magnesium in Diet. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm. Updated April 30,2018. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

[9]Magnesium.National Institutes of Health website. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/. Updated February 17, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

[10]Facts About Monounsaturated Fats. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000785.htm. Reviewed April 24, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

[11]Part D. Chapter 6: Cross-cutting Topics of Public Health Importance - Continued. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/11-chapter-6/d6-2.asp. Published 2015. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

[12]LDL and HDL Cholesterol: "Bad" and "Good" Cholesterol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm. Updated October 31, 2017. Accessed June 1, 2018. 

 

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