Peanuts are just about the most popular nut worldwide, and certainly the most popular nut in America. Fully 90% of homes in the United States are eating peanut butter, and peanuts and peanut butter make up 67% of all the nut consumption in America. America’s peanut trees are feeding the world, with peanut farms exporting more than 350,000 metric tons of peanuts in 2013. The advantages of peanuts are many. Read on for four peanut benefits that might just change the way you snack.
The Advantages of Peanuts: Healthy Fats
If you’re worried about the high-fat content of peanuts, you shouldn’t. The fat peanuts contain is actually almost identical to the fat profile of olive oil. The fat in peanuts is 80% unsaturated and 20% saturated, and most of the unsaturated fat is monounsaturated, which has long been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Advantages of Peanuts: Antioxidants
If you’re drinking red wine for all those antioxidant health benefits, you should be eating peanuts for the same reason. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules implicated in cell damage and a possible mechanism for cancer development. Peanuts are high in resveratrol, the same antioxidant in red wine and one that has been associated with better blood flow to the brain.
The Advantages of Peanuts: Copper
This trace mineral is essential for human functioning, though it is often overlooked unless someone gets too much copper. Most copper poisoning comes from non-natural sources, however, and it is far more common to have too little copper in the system that too much. Copper is essential for producing the enzymes that control neural activity and for making the myelin sheath that covers the nerves. Being even a bit deficient in copper can lead to greater risk of heart disease. Getting more copper is associated with lower LDL cholesterol levels and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The Advantages of Peanuts: Gallstone Protection
Gallstones form in the gallbladder and can cause pain and difficulty with digestion. They are more common in overweight women and anyone who eats a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, particularly if that diet is accompanied by low intake of natural fats. Eating plenty of nuts, and in particular, peanuts was shown in a long-term nurse study to lower the risk of developing gallstones by about 25%. More on this.