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The Health Benefits of Peanuts

Peanut Power

With peanut allergies on the rise, more and more people are steering clear of these nuts altogether. There’s no arguing that peanut allergies can be extremely serious, and if you are allergic, you should certainly stay away from them. But if you’re not, you may want to take a second look at peanuts.

They’re a great source of protein. And they’re also extraordinarily high in polyphenols — the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the antioxidant family. Yes, peanuts are high in fat. But now we know that, like avocados, they are high in the “good” kind — monounsaturated fat. They also contain magnesium, folate, vitamin E, copper, arginine, and fiber — all of which are known to lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Another one of peanuts’ virtues is that they contain high amounts of resveratrol. Studies have shown that resveratrol can inhibit the growth of colorectal tumor cells. Since the other primary source for this compound is red wine, it’s a challenge for people who don’t drink alcohol to get enough: Peanuts to the rescue!

Roasting actually increases the antioxidant content in peanuts by up to 22 percent. Since most people prefer roasted nuts, this is a great discovery.

Here are some tips for getting as much benefit as possible from peanuts:

  • Instead of eating peanuts doused with too much salt, combine the roasted, unsalted variety with dried fruits for a tasty snack that is also packed full of polyphenols and other antioxidants.
  • Make sure you buy natural peanut butter that doesn’t contain added sugar. Look for brands made from roasted, organic peanuts, since conventionally grown peanuts tend to have high pesticide content.
  • And if you’d like to indulge your inner child who still yearns for an occasional PB&J, try natural peanut butter with sliced banana and drizzled with some honey. Believe me, you won’t miss the jelly (or the refined sugar it contains) one bit.

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K OK?

Q: Dr. Wright, can you please tell me the correct dosage for vitamin K? I’ve noticed that you recommend 10 milgrams daily but my multivitamin bottle lists it in micrograms. I’m not sure about the conversion of one to the other — and I’m not even sure if I should be taking any more than what is already in the multivitamin to begin with. Can you shed some light on this for me?

JVW: Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient that the body needs for important functions; most notably blood clotting and the formation and repair of bone. You can obtain it through your diet by eating things like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and other leafy green vegetables. But I almost always suggest taking a separate vitamin K supplement in addition to food sources and a multivitamin. You can find vitamin K in capsule or liquid form in most natural food stores and vitamin shops.

There are two distinct signs of vitamin K deficiency that I have seen over the years: bruising easily, and for women only, painful clotting during menstruation. For these, I recommend a dose of 10-15 mg daily. If you’re not deficient in vitamin K, you may only need 5-10 mg per day.

Since the metric system isn’t the accepted form of measurement in our country, dosage recommendations are often confusing. But 10 milligrams is the equivalent of 10,000 micrograms.

A word of caution though: do not take vitamin K if you are taking a blood thinning medication such as Coumadin. And it is always best to consult a skilled natural health provider when beginning any supplementation. To find one in your area, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) at (888)439-6891 or go to www.acam.org. For more detailed information about vitamin K, check out the July 2000 issue of Nutrition and Healing, available to subscribers on the website at www.wrightnewsletter.com.

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What is…Arachis hypogaea?

This is simply the fancy term for peanut. Peanuts aren’t actually nuts at all — they’re legumes, and are more closely related to lentils and kidney beans than to macadamias and Brazil nuts. What differentiates them from the rest of their legume cousins is that their pods grow under the soil instead of on the vine.

There are four basic types of peanuts: Runner, Virginia, Spanish, and Valencia. Each type has its own distinctive size, flavor, and nutritional composition. About 50 percent of all edible peanuts produced in the United States are used to make peanut butter and peanut spreads.

Yours in good health,
Amanda Ross
Managing Editor
Nutrition & Healing

Sources:

“Peanuts Rich in ‘Good Chemicals,’” BBC News, 1/21/05

Delmas D, et al. “Resveratrol, a chemopreventive agent, disrupts the cell cycle control of human SW480 colorectal tumor cells.” Int J Mol Med 2002; 10(2): 193-199