It’s a great day to address some of the most common myths I hear about peanuts. Not only is it National Peanut Month and National Nutrition Month, it’s also National Registered Dietitian Nutritionists Day. We RDNs work hard all the time to help people learn to change their habits and choose healthy habits. Healthy eating isn’t always synonymous with delicious foods, so it can sometimes take some convincing. This year’s National Nutrition Month theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Savor the Flavor of Eating Right, is a great reminder of the importance that taste plays in helping people choose more nutritious foods.
Enter peanuts! Peanuts and peanut foods bring together the three most important decision factors for consumers, clients, and patients to make better food choices – nutrition, cost, and most importantly taste. Yet there are still some people who are confused about how nutritious peanuts and peanut foods are. After all, how can something so delicious also be good for you?! This skepticism and common myths and misconceptions can lead people to think that they should sacrifice their favorite peanut foods for other foods that they mistakenly think are more nutritious. Here are some common myths that I’ve debunked for you:
|Peanuts are too high in fat to be part of a healthy diet.||In fact, most of the fat in peanuts is the kind we should eat more often – mono and polyunsaturated fat.|
|Other nut butters are a better choice because peanut butter contains additives.||Peanut butter comes in many different varieties to meet every taste and preference, including just peanuts, a little salt, other seasonings and flavors, chocolate, the kind you have to stir and no-stir. No matter which brand you choose, as long as it’s labeled “peanut butter,” it’s a nutritious option.|
|Peanuts are a source of mold and therefore are bad for you.||Every load of peanuts is rigorously tested for safety, including aflatoxin, and those that don’t meet the standard set by USDA are not used for our favorite peanut foods. Moreover, farmers take great pains to ensure that peanuts are grown in the safest way possible. Read more about peanuts and food safety.|
|Other nuts have more nutrients and are a better choice.||Actually, peanuts have more protein than any other nut. They are also an excellent source of niacin and magnesium, and a good source of copper, manganese, and folate; plus, they provide fiber and those good fats I already mentioned. Peanuts also cost about 16 cents per ounce at retail while almonds costs about 51 cents per ounce.|
|Parents should delay introduction of peanuts to their children.||Research shows that the opposite is actually true. In the recent LEAP study of 640 children, researchers discovered that when peanuts were introduced to the diets of infants at high risk for developing peanuts, starting between 4-11 months of age, there was more than an 80% reduction in peanut allergy. Another study of more than 8,000 children found that rates of peanut or tree nut allergies among children are lower when mothers eat nuts ?5 times per week during pregnancy. For more common food allergy myths debunked, click here. You may also learn more at http://peanutallergyfacts.org/.|
There are so many other great things to know about peanuts. Check out our website’s nutrition section, written with you in mind and including information for clients of any age. And, for tasty nutrition recipes, check out our amazing recipes. I hope this additional bit of information makes your job easier as you seek to help people live healthier lives. Have a great RDN Day!
By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
Information Resources Inc. 52-week ending July 12, 2015. Total US Multi-Outlet