Any snack can help get you through a long car trip or a slow day at work, but the best snacks are those that satisfy your craving without making you need to go back for more. Peanuts fit this description. As a low-glycemic food, peanuts cause only a minor blood glucose response, which provides favorable results for both your short- and long-term health.
The Glycemic Index
Your blood glucose reacts according to the foods you eat. When a particular food has a high-glycemic index, it prompts a quick rise in your blood glucose, which is soon followed by a quick fall. Your subsequent low blood glucose leads you feeling fatigued and hungry again, and it's easy to repeat this pattern of snacking and being hungry. Foods with a moderate or low-glycemic index are more favorable additions to your diet, as they cause a slower blood glucose response.
Low Glycemic Index
Peanuts have a glycemic index of 7, making them a low-glycemic food. Any food with a glycemic index of 55 or less is considered low. Peanuts have the second lowest glycemic index, behind chickpea hummus, of more than 100 foods listed on Harvard Health Publications' glycemic index website. Since they're not technically nuts, but legumes, peanuts have a lower glycemic index than nuts, including cashews and almonds, which have indexes of 27 and 15, respectively.
Protein and Fiber
The high protein and fiber content in peanuts contribute to their low-glycemic index. Foods that contain high amounts of protein and fiber cause your blood glucose to rise slowly. The protein and fiber in peanuts also make you feel full, which limits your chance of overeating, an especially ideal characteristic if you're dieting or trying to maintain your weight. Peanuts are a healthier choice than high-glycemic foods because consistently eating the latter can lead to weight gain and a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Source of Nutrients
In addition to protein and fiber, peanuts are a valuable source of nutrients. One ounce of peanuts provides 1.3 milligrams of iron, which is 16 percent of the recommended daily amount for men and 7 percent of the recommended daily amount for women. Iron is vitally important for helping your body transport oxygen. Peanuts also provide high levels of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, niacin and vitamin E.
- Eat Right Ontario: Getting to Know the Glycemic Index
- Harvard Health Publications: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods
- Montignac Method: Search for a Specific Glycemic Index: Letter A
- University of Illinois Extension: Eating for Target Blood Glucose Levels
- University of California at San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital: Why Fiber Is So Good for You
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Peanuts, All Types, Raw
- Harvard Health Publications: Listing of Vitamins