When it comes to nutritional value, peanuts have plenty to offer. Not only do they make a tasty snack and a savory addition to salads and pad Thai, peanuts provide plant protein, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients. A 1-ounce serving of dry-roasted peanuts delivers 166 calories, 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat -- only 12 grams of which are unsaturated. Their healthy fats and carbohydrates help you stabilize your energy and triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides are the chemical form of fat in your body. Unused calories you have ingested are converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells. Hormones then release the triglycerides as you need more energy. If you're eating more calories than you burn, you may develop high triglycerides.
According to the American Heart Association, high triglyceride levels may indicate other conditions such as type 2 diabetes -- and may also be a side effect of certain medications. The best ways to lower triglycerides include exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, losing weight, cutting back cholesterol, avoiding sugary and refined foods and choosing healthier fats.
Studies cited by the Peanut Institute show that adding peanuts to your diet can help you lose weight and lower cholesterol. Peanuts have a low glycemic index -- which measures your body's level of blood sugar after you ingest carbohydrates -- and a high fiber content, both of which help keep hunger satisfied and pounds off. Because of their plant protein content, peanuts are cholesterol-free. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the healthy sources of fat.
Healthy Fats Study
The Peanut Institute reports a study led by Professor Penny Kris-Etherton, nutritional researcher at Pennsylvania State University, compared the average American diet with four cholesterol-lowering diets, one considered low-fat and the other three including monunsaturated fats. While all four diets lowered cholesterol, the low fat diet had the biggest decrease in "good" cholesterol. "The key thing is that the low-fat diet increased triglycerides," says Professor Kris-Etherton, "but the monunsaturated fatty acid diets decreased triglycerides." The study was published in the 1999 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." These findings still hold true, as the 2012 issue of the"Journal of Clinical Lipidology" reports that a moderate-fat diet lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
High triglycerides can also contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, which a steady diet of peanuts can help offset. A study conducted at Purdue University and published in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" concluded that regular peanut consumption lowered serum triglycerides, the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- American Heart Association: Triglycerides
- The Peanut Institute: Health and Nutrition Research
- Peanut Institute: High Monounsaturated Fat Diets Vs. Low-Fat Diets
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: High–Monounsaturated Fatty Acid Diets Lower Both Plasma Cholesterol and Triacylglycerol Concentrations
- Journal of Clinical Lipidology: Fatty Acids in Cardiovascular Health and Disease: A Comprehensive Update
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanuts, All-Types, Dry-Roasted, With Salt