Peanuts and peanut butter are among America’s most popular foods. Americans consume more than 600 million pounds of peanuts and about 700 million pounds of peanut butter each year. The good news is that peanut products are delicious and nutritious!Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses providing 12% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) per serving. Peanuts and peanut butter are less expensive sources of protein that many other foods (such as cheese, bologna and hamburgers). Peanut products are especially popular with vegetarians and people wanting to reduce their consumption of red meat. Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of many essential vitamins and minerals. Peanuts and peanut butter are good sources of fiber, offering about as much as 1/2 cup of broccoli. fiber reduces the risk of some types of cancer, helps control blood sugar levels and may help reduce the level of cholesterol in your blood. Fiber also increases your sense of “fullness” which is important when dieting. Peanuts are low sodium food according to the FDA Dietary Guidelines. Peanuts and peanut butter contain mostly unsaturated fat, which has been shown to lower LDL-cholesterol levels in your blood. In fact, studies at Loma Linda University indicate that frequent consumption of nuts like peanuts as part of a healthy diet may actually lower your risk of heart attack. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol free, an added value for health conscious consumers. Peanuts and peanut butter are a good source of folic acid. Recent studies have shown folic acid, a B vitamin, can prevent 50% to 80% of neural tube defects when women get sufficient amounts during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.
The USDA Food Guide Pyramid
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid is an easy way to develop and maintain a balanced diet. Each of the food groups listed on The Pyramid provides some of the nutrients that you need to build your way to better health. No one of the food group is more important than the other – for good health, you need to eat foods from each of them.
Peanuts and peanut butter are part of the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts Group because thay are high in protein. Every cell in the body requires some level of protein to survive. Protein is needed to repair tissues and develop new ones, to maintain necessary fluid levels and to make anitbodies which ward off disease and infection. Protein also assists with the transport of nutrients into and out of cells. The USDA recommends eating two to three servings from this protein group daily. One ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter is considered on serving.
Peanuts are a good source of essential vitamins
Vitamins are important nutrients and are essential for life. They are natural, organic substances which the body requires constantly in small amounts in order to maintain good health. Vitamins are needed by the body for nearly every body process, including tissue health and the regulation of hunger. There are 13 vitamins necessary for normal body growth and maintenance. The amazing peanut and peanut butter contain nearly half of the 13 essential vitamins!
Peanuts are a good source of many essential minerals
Minerals are essential for life, just like vitamins. Minerals are natural, organic substances which the body requires in order to remain healthy, They are essential nutrients for growth, maintenance and repair of tissues. There are 20 essential minerals necessary for normal body growth and maintenance. Peanuts and peanut butter contain 35 percent of the essential minerals!
Peanuts and Peanut Butter Contain Mostly Unsaturated Fat
Peanuts and peanut butter, like most foods, contain fat. Fortunately, nearly 80% of the fat in peanuts and peanut butter is unsaturated fat – “the good fat” – which may actually help lower LDL-cholesterol levels in your blood. In fact, because peanuts and peanut butter are so versatile, good tasting and nutritious, they are included in many medically endorsed weight loss and diabetic diets.
Fat, the most concentrated source of energy in your diet, is a vital nutrient, it provides essential fatty acids, carries fat soluble vitamins such as A,D and E and helps maintain healthy skin. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fat is the culprit that can raise the cholesterol level in your blood. This type of fat is found mainly in animal foods such as meats and whole-fat milk and cheeses. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of the daily intake of calories. Peanuts and peanut butter contain only 2.5 grams of saturated fat per serving.
Unsaturated fat, found in plant foods, is the type of fat that, when used to replace saturated fat in the diet, can help lower LDL-cholesterol levels (the “bad” type of cholesterol) without actually lowering the HDL-cholesterol level (the “good” type of cholesterol). Peanuts contain both mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat. Nearly 80% of the fat contained in peanuts and peanut butter is unsaturated. Unsaturated fats do not increase blood cholesterol levels.
Peanuts actually have less saturated fat than most other nuts and peanut butter has about the same as many other lunch foods. Below you can see how peanuts and peanut butter compare to other popular foods.