Peanut Protein and Bioactives Show Heart-Protective Effects

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 General News
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ALBANY, Ga., July 1 New research on peanuts as afunctional food indicates that fat-free peanut flour, whole peanuts and peanutoil deliver similar positive effects to reduce the risk of heart disease. Thestudy, conducted by USDA-ARS scientist Dr. Timothy Sanders and North CarolinaState University graduate student, Amanda Stephens, both in Raleigh, NorthCarolina, is being released today at the 2008 Annual Institute of FoodTechnologists (IFT) Meeting. This research shows separate and significanthealth benefits in the non-oil portion of the peanut.

The study compared the effects of four diets in hamsters that containedsimilar amounts of fat, carbohydrates and protein. In three of the diets,peanuts, peanut oil, or fat-free peanut flour were substituted for equivalentcaloric amounts of food. The fourth diet served as a control. Compared to thecontrol group, all three of the peanut diets significantly lowered totalcholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol. In addition, the good HDL cholesterolremained steady, which has the positive effect of removing bad cholesterolfrom the blood.

"We now have shown that there are components beyond the healthy fat inpeanuts that are having strong health benefits. The protein and otherfunctional components in peanuts, which are in the peanut flour, also improveheart disease risk factors," said Dr. Sanders.

Over two-thirds of the nuts consumed in the US are eaten as peanuts,peanut butter and peanut ingredients. Numerous studies have well documentedthe heart healthy effects of peanuts, which received a qualified health claimfrom the Food and Drug Administration. Studies show that eating just oneserving of peanuts or peanut butter a day can cut heart disease risk by halfand diabetes risk by a quarter. The healthy oils in peanuts have traditionallybeen attributed with much of this effect. However, this USDA study and otherresearch presented at the IFT session, "Peanuts: Mother Nature's FunctionalPowerhouse," is clearly showing that there is a lot more to peanuts than justthe good fats.

"Peanut products are ideal ingredients for the health and wellnessmarket," said Bruce Kotz of the Golden Peanut Company. "We see a rapidlygrowing demand for peanut flours in nutrition-based products."

The healthy fats, protein, arginine, fiber, folate, vitamin E, niacin,minerals, antioxidants and bioactives such as resveratrol and phytosterols inpeanut products may be acting synergistically to improve health and providesatiety. Whether you choose peanuts, peanut butter, peanut oil, or peanutflour you can have a significant impact on decreasing risk of disease.

The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization that supports nutritionresearch and develops educational programs to encourage healthy lifestyles.For more information on the health benefits of peanuts, peanut butter, peanutoil, and peanut flour, visit

SOURCE The Peanut Institute

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