Are Peanuts Actually Good for You? Registered Dietitians Share What You Need To Know
Here's what to keep in mind before you make your next purchase.
When it comes to nuts, many of us have our favorites. Whether it's pistachios, walnuts, almonds or peanuts, there's something for everyone. But how does each one stack up nutritionally?
Peanuts, in particular, are a type of nut—well, technically a legume— that many people are curious about. While they are certainly tasty and satiating, are they actually good for you? We spoke to dietitians to find out.
Peanut Nutrition Facts
Here’s the nutritional breakdown of 1 ounce of peanuts, according to the USDA.
Related: 20 Low-Carb Nut Recipes Filled With Nutrients
The Health Benefits of Peanuts
While peanuts are not actually a "nut," but rather a legume, they are most often grouped together with all other nuts. Like all other types of nuts, they are a great source of plant-based protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and fiber in the form of complex carbohydrates, Kiran Campbell, RD, explains.
Peanuts also have more protein than any other nut and are comparable to a serving of beans. These nuts even contain resveratrol, a polyphenic compound known by most people as the health-benefiting ingredient in red wine and grape skins and seeds, Campbell states.
Research shows that resveratrol may help to combat oxidative stress, inflammation, neurodegeneration and the aging process.
According to a recent analysis, it is recommended that those without allergies to peanuts consume a handful of nuts and seeds per day for adequate health. The analysis also showed that consuming 28 grams of nuts daily compared to not eating nuts is associated with a reduction of cardiovascular disease (specifically related to improved lipid levels—cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and apoB), a reduction of cancer deaths and in all-cause mortality.
Peanut consumption may also be beneficial to those with respiratory and infectious diseases, Campbell adds.
Related: 11 Types of Nuts to Mix into All Your Meals (And Get a Little Nutty!)
“Peanuts are a nutrient-dense food containing vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium,” says Kathryn Piper, RDN, LD, NBC-HWC. “They also contain fiber and protein, which are both important for digestive health and weight loss.”
In addition, peanuts provide healthy fats that may help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
They are also low in carbohydrates which makes them a good option for those looking to lower their blood sugar, Piper adds.
How To Integrate Peanuts Into Your Diet
When it comes to purchasing peanuts, look for unsalted and/or unsweetened peanuts, and the same goes for peanut butter. This is because adding salt and sugar does not provide any nutritional benefits, and in fact, may cancel out any heart health benefits, Campbell explains.
Also, a large number of antioxidants and polyphenols are concentrated in the skins of peanuts, so purchasing ones with skins or still in the shell may also be beneficial.
Additionally, roasting peanuts versus eating them raw can also increase the antioxidant capacity, according to research, although eating raw peanuts is also a great option, Campbell states.
Peanuts are extremely versatile as well. They come whole, crushed and in the form of peanut butter. You can incorporate them into your diet by adding them to hot meals like Pad Thai, for example, snacks, smoothies, trail mixes, homemade granola bars, salads, sauces and so much more, Campbell adds.
“Peanuts are a great snack on their own, or combine them with other nuts and dried fruit for a trail mix,” says Piper. “You can also add them to salads and stir-fries for added crunch and flavor.”
Peanut sauce can be used as a dip or marinade for meats and vegetables, and peanut butter can be added to smoothies and yogurt or used as a dip for fruits and veggies, Piper says.
Next up: 32 Sweet and Savory Ways to Reimagine a Basic Jar of Peanut Butter
Kiran Campbell, RD
Journal of Food Science and Technology: “Peanuts as functional food: a review”
Acta Biochimica Polonica: “Health benefits of resveratrol administration”
Advances in Nutrition: “Consumption of Nuts and Seeds and Health Outcomes Including Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes and Metabolic Disease, Cancer, and Mortality: An Umbrella Review”
Kathryn Piper, RDN LD NBC-HWC