(Natural News) Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are one of the most popular snacks available. Raw, roasted, salted, or chocolate-coated – these native South American legumes are also known for their health benefits, especially when it comes to the heart. Peanuts can improve heart health in many ways.
Peanuts can lower cholesterol levels. Peanuts contain more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than they do saturated fats. This fat ratio makes peanuts better for the heart than other foods with a higher proportion of saturated fats. The healthy fats in peanuts help lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. Having high LDL cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits build up inside the arteries.
In addition, peanuts contain the amino acid arginine and phenolic compounds that help protect the lining of the arteries called the endothelium. A damaged endothelium may also lead to atherosclerosis.
Peanuts can lower blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to heart disease. Peanuts can help protect against heart disease because they contain unsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients like vitamin E, arginine, fiber, and plant sterols – all of which help lower blood pressure. It is best to eat unsalted peanuts to maximize their blood pressure-lowering benefits.
Peanuts also keep the heart healthy because of their vitamin E content. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals that lead to diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
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The arginine, fiber, magnesium, phenolic compounds, and vitamin E in peanuts can also fight inflammation, which plays a huge role in the development of atherosclerosis. In one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that consuming nuts instead of eggs, processed meat, red meat, or refined grains was linked to lower levels of inflammation markers.
Having diabetes is a risk factor for developing and dying of heart disease. By consuming nuts and peanut butter, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients, you can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Peanuts have a low glycemic index (GI), which means that they do not cause blood sugar spikes. They also help in blood sugar control as they are relatively low in carbohydrates but high in protein. Their fiber content also helps slow down digestion, allowing a steadier release of energy. All these reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease-related death. (Related: Go nuts for your heart: Regularly eating a variety of nuts found to lower risk of heart disease.)
More reasons to eat peanuts
Peanuts make a great addition to a weight loss diet. While peanuts contain high amounts of fat and calories, they do not appear to cause weight gain. Observational studies have reported that eating peanuts helps maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity. A study, which was published in the journal Lipids, found that replacing other sources of fat in a low-fat diet with peanuts promoted weight loss in healthy women.
Peanuts are filling snacks, so munching on them can help reduce food intake. The protein and monounsaturated fats in peanuts may also help increase calorie burning. Lastly, the high content of insoluble fiber in peanuts can help reduce the risk of weight gain.
Another benefit of eating peanuts is that they help prevent gallstones, which are solid particles that form from bile cholesterol and bilirubin in the gallbladder. Observational studies have shown that eating peanuts frequently can reduce the risk of gallstones in both men and women. Researchers believed that the cholesterol-lowering effect of peanuts may be the reason behind this benefit as most gallstones are largely composed of cholesterol.
Things to consider before eating peanuts
Despite the many health benefits of peanuts, some people can be severely allergic to them as they contain proteins called arachin and conarachin. Peanuts are also rich in calories, so eat them in moderation. Consuming too many calories may result in weight gain.