Eating a handful of peanuts daily may lower your risk of developing heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. However, the Harvard report also points out that gobbling peanuts in addition to consuming your usual snacks and meals could undo the health benefits. In spite of their nutrients and antioxidants, peanuts are high in calories, and eating too many of them could interfere with the absorption of minerals, and if you buy salted peanuts, you’ll consume a lot of sodium.
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Watch Out For Weight Gain
If you don’t pay attention to the amount you eat, you may consume more peanuts -- and many more calories -- than you realize. One serving is just 1 ounce, which only equals about 32 peanuts. An ounce of dry-roasted peanuts has 166 calories. Oil-roasted varieties are about the same, with 170 calories in a 1-ounce serving. Roughly one-fourth of the total calories comes from 14 grams of fat. Even though most of the fats are healthy, cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats, over-consumption that leads to extra weight may offset this benefit and contribute to heart disease.
Nutrient Deficiency From an Unbalanced Diet
When you get full from consuming a large amount of peanuts, you may eat smaller amounts of other healthy foods. A nutritionally unbalanced diet can result in you having a deficiency of nutrients, which can negatively affect your health, even if you maintain an optimal weight, according to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.” Peanuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats, but they’re low in carbohydrates. A diet that includes peanuts to the exclusion of complex carbohydrates will leave you without enough carbs to maintain optimal energy. Other nutrient imbalances may also arise. For example, peanuts provide vitamin E and folate, yet lack vitamins A and C.
Mineral Absorption Issues
Peanuts are good sources of phosphorus, which is in the form of phytic acid, or phytate. When you eat peanuts, these phytates bind with other dietary minerals, such as iron, zinc, calcium and manganese. In this bound form, phytate interferes with your body’s ability to absorb the minerals. The Linus Pauling Institute reports that phytates slightly inhibit the absorption of manganese and calcium. They have a significant impact on zinc and iron, however, when the minerals come from plant-based foods. When you consume a varied diet, the impact of phytate is not a health concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consuming an unbalanced diet from eating too many peanuts, however, may affect your levels of zinc or iron.
As long as you buy unsalted nuts, you won’t have to worry about their impact on your blood pressure because peanuts are naturally sodium free. However, 1 ounce of salted dry-roasted peanuts contains 189 milligrams of sodium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This amount represents 13 percent of the daily intake of 1,500 milligrams that the Institute of Medicine recommends. Numerous servings of salted peanuts, together with sodium from other sources in your diet, can easily put you over the recommended intake. Consuming too much sodium boosts your blood pressure, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Harvard School of Public Health: Nuts for the Heart
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Does the Fat in Nuts Make Them Unhealthy?
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Linus Pauling Institute: Phosphorus
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Zinc
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: High Blood Pressure
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanuts, All Types, Dry-Roasted, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanuts, All Types, Oil-Roasted, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Peanuts, All Types, Dry-Roasted, With Salt
- Dietary Reference Intakes: Electrolytes and Water