Powerful Peanuts: History, Health Benefits & Ways to Enjoy
Written by Chrissy Arsenault, MBA, RDN, LD
Peanuts often get a bad rap compared to other nuts – and they really shouldn’t!
Peanuts are more affordable and just as nutritious as other nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts. Don’t overlook these delicious gems.
Read on to learn more about the history of peanuts, their health benefits, and ways to incorporate them into your diet today.
History of Peanuts
Peanuts are legumes that grow underground, unlike traditional tree nuts. However, they taste similar to the rest of the tree nut family.
No one is entirely sure about the origin of peanuts, but people believe they originated in South America. Peanut butter was developed in North America in the 1880s and 1890s as peanuts became an important crop in the Southern region of the United States.  Now they are enjoyed by people all over the world.
8 Powerful Health Benefits of Peanuts
1. THEY’RE A NUTRIENT-DENSE FOOD
Peanuts have an amazing nutrient profile. One serving (28g or 28 peanuts) of peanuts contains the following nutrients: 
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs): 6.32g (13% DV*)
Dietary fiber: 2.69 (10% DV*)
Protein: 7.43g (15% DV*)
Vitamin E: 2.4 mg (20% DV*)
Magnesium: 53.3 mg (13% DV*)
Biotin: 5 mcg (17% DV*)
Folate: 68 mcg (17% DV*)
Copper: 0.32 mcg (36% DV*)
Niacin: 3.4 mcg (21% DV*)
Manganese: 0.29 mg (13% DV*)
Thiamine: 0.18 mcg (15% DV*)
*DV = Daily Value based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
2. THEY’RE HEART-HEALTHY
Peanuts contain about 13% of Daily Value in monounsaturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats may help reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood. This can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
According to various studies, the frequent consumption of nuts such as peanuts may decrease the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and body weight. 
3. SUPPORTS WEIGHT LOSS
People often worry about eating peanuts since they are higher in fat and calories. But did you know that eating peanuts may also help you maintain a healthy weight? A short study found that eating 46g of peanuts per day may help reduce your weight. 
4. MAY INCREASE LONGEVITY
Eating peanuts may even help you live longer. Studies have shown a relationship between decreased mortality for those who eat peanuts often. 
5. PREVENTS GALLSTONES
Gallbladder disease is a common condition in Western countries that can cause a lot of abdominal pain. A study conducted at Harvard School of Public Health showed that eating a daily serving of peanuts may decrease the risk of gallstones by 20 percent due to its high monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 
6. RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants play a vital role in heart health and also in preventing cancer. Besides being a nutrient-dense food, peanuts are high in antioxidants. They are as rich in antioxidants as some fruits are. Several studies have shown the presence of important antioxidants in peanut skin, which aids in preventing cell damage. 
7. MAY HELP TO REGULATE BLOOD SUGAR
Peanuts may be an excellent snack for people who have diabetes, people on a keto diet, or just for anyone trying to better manage their blood sugars. Regulating blood sugar levels prevent serious conditions such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
A study showed that men and women with Type 2 Diabetes who consumed 50-60g of peanuts per day, along with a low-carb diet improved their fasting blood sugar as well as their blood sugar after meals. 
8. MAY REDUCE CANCER RISK
One study found that eating peanuts often plays an important role in colorectal cancer prevention due to the presence of compounds like resveratrol and isoflavones. 
Another study also showed that peanut and peanut butter consumption was associated with a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. 
8 Fun Ways to Incorporate Peanuts into Your Diet
1. PEANUT BUTTER
Including peanut butter in your diet is an easy way to get healthy fats, plant-based protein, fiber, and vitamins. You can spread it on celery sticks, add to nutty smoothies, or make keto desserts with it. Dietitian tip: Be sure to check the nutrition label and choose a peanut butter with no/little added sugar.
2. PEANUT BUTTER POWDER
Peanut butter powder is a fabulous source of protein and fiber. Although peanut butter powder has fewer calories and less fat than peanut butter, it’s not as creamy and doesn’t provide those heart-healthy fats for keto. I love to use peanut butter powder when making a peanut sauce for a stir-fry to add some flavor!
3. MUNK PACK KETO GRANOLA BARS
Creamy with a sweet twist! If you are a peanut butter lover like me, Munk Pack’s Peanut Butter Keto Granola Bar is a great on-the-go snack. With only 1g of sugar, 2g of net carbs, and 5g of protein, this bar is the perfect nutritious snack to get your peanut fix.
4. UNREFINED PEANUT OIL
Peanut oil is ideal to use at high temperatures due to its high smoke point. This oil is a good source of vitamin E and healthy fats. Since cooking with peanut oil adds a nutty taste and smell to food, it works well when making Asian-inspired dishes. Make sure to choose unrefined peanut oil which still contains all the nutrients.
5. KETO PEANUT BUTTER CUPS
One of my favorite duos is dark chocolate and peanut butter. You can look for low-carb, keto-friendly versions in grocery stores like Walmart. Or, try making your own with 90% dark chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut oil!
6. MUNK PACK KETO NUT & SEED BARS
With less than 1g gram of sugar and 3g of net carbs, Munk Pack’s Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Keto Nut & Seed Bar is a delicious snack to stay fueled throughout the day. Dietitian tip: You can take these bars anywhere you go or you can crumble them on top of your favorite keto chia pudding for an extra crunch.
7. PEANUT BUTTER PUFFS
Peanut butter puffs are also a great snack that contains plant protein, healthy fats, and an amazing texture. If you are a parent, this is a perfect way to expose your baby to peanuts avoiding the choking hazard of feeding them whole peanuts or peanut butter. Look for the ones that are low in sodium and with no added sugars.
8. ROASTED PEANUTS
The process of roasting the peanut enhances the flavor, aids in digestibility, and adds more healthy fats. You can add roasted peanuts to your favorite salads or stir-fry!
The Bottom Line
As you can see, peanuts have many wonderful benefits for health. They’re also tasty and can be enjoyed in many better-for-you foods including my favorite Munk Pack Keto Granola Bars and Keto Nut & Seed Bars!
What else would you like to know about peanuts? Comment below and let me know!
|↑1||National Peanut Board: History of Peanuts & Peanut Butter. Accessed October 4, 2021.|
|↑2||Nutrients: Peanuts, FDIC ID: 174263. United States Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central (usda.gov). Accessed October 4, 2021.|
|↑3||Guasch-Ferré M, Liu X, Malik VS, et al. Nut Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Nov 14;70(20):2519-2532.|
|↑4||Wien M, Oda K, Sabaté J. A randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of incorporating peanuts into an American Diabetes Association meal plan on the nutrient profile of the total diet and cardiometabolic parameters of adults with type 2 diabetes. Nutr J. 2014 Jan 22;13(10).|
|↑5||Bonku, R., Yu, J. Health aspects of peanuts as an outcome of its chemical composition. Food Sci Hum Wellness. 2019 Dec 27;9(1):21-30.|
|↑6||Daily peanut and peanut butter consumption reduces risk of gallstones, Nutr Food Sci. 2004 Dec 1; 34(6).|
|↑7||W. Lewis, G. Harris, T. Sanders, B. White and L. Dean. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Peanut Skin Extracts. Food Nutr Sci. 2013 May 19;4(8):22-32.|
|↑8||Hou Y-Y, Ojo O, Wang L-L, Wang Q, Jiang Q, Shao X-Y, Wang X-H. A Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare the Effect of Peanuts and Almonds on the Cardio-Metabolic and Inflammatory Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2018 Oct 23;10(11):1565.|
|↑9||Lee J, Shin A, Oh JH, Kim J. The relationship between nut intake and risk of colorectal cancer: a case control study. Nutr J. 2018 Mar 7;17(1):37.|
|↑10||van den Brandt PA, Nieuwenhuis L. Tree nut, peanut, and peanut butter intake and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: The Netherlands Cohort Study. Cancer Causes Control. 2018 Nov 22;29(1):63-75.|