fast-factsThe Health Benefits of Peanuts and Peanut Butter

  • Peanuts and peanut butter are naturally cholesterol-free.
  • Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses - providing 15% (7.6 g) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level (50 g) of protein per serving (one ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter).
  • Current research supports a connection between a diet rich in plant foods and reduced disease risk, especially heart disease and cancer. Peanuts are an important plant food that can be substituted for animal protein which is higher in saturated fat.
  • Eating peanuts, peanut butter and nuts five or more times per week can cut heart disease risk by up to 50% based on a number of large population studies.  These include Harvard’s Nurses’ Study (British Medical Journal, 1998) and Loma Linda’s Seven Day Adventist Study (Archives of Internal Medicine, 1992).
  • Nutrient-dense peanuts and peanut butter contain many vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the standard American diet. (Just one ounce of peanuts contains nearly half of the 13 vitamins necessary for the body's growth and maintenance and more than one third of the 20 minerals needed!)
    • One ounce of raw peanuts contains 17% (68mg) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level (400 mg) of Folate. the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation recommends including  folate in the diet in the earliest weeks of pregnancy for preventing neural tube birth defects.  Additionally, studies have shown that folate consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease (Nurses Health Study, British Medical Journal, November 1998).
    • One ounce of peanuts supplies 29% (2.6 mg, -aTE) of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) level (9mg, -aTE) of Vitamin E. Vitamin E from food sources has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease according to a study in  the New England Journal of Medicine, May, 1996.
  • One ounce of peanuts contains approximately 73 mg of resveratrol. A naturally occurring plant compound or phytochemical, resveratrol's presence in red wine has been previously associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and has been credited as the factor in the "French Paradox" (despite a high-fat diet, the French have a surprisingly low rate of heart disease).
  • Current research indicates that many of the minerals found in peanuts - copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc and calcium - may have a protective effect for coronary heart disease.
  • The beneficial plant fat in peanuts which is about 81% unsaturated (considered the "good" fat) can help lower cholesterol levels when it replaces saturated animal fat in the diet.
  • Under FDA regulations, peanut butter contains zero (0) trans fat.
  • Each one-ounce serving of peanuts contains 2.4 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Diets high in monounsaturated fats from foods like peanuts, peanut butter and olive oil are superior to low fat diets for heart health according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (December 1999).  Diets high in monounsaturates improve the risk factors for cholesterol (including LDL and HDL) and triglycerides.  They reduce heart disease risk by 21% versus only 12% for low fat diets.
  • For additional health and nutrition information, visit The Peanut Institute’s web site at www.peanut-institute.org.

The Versatile Peanut

  • Peanuts are not a nut! Botanically classified as legumes, peanuts contain properties of both the bean/lentil and tree nuts.
  • Peanut butter, which by law must be 90% peanuts, is the leading use of peanuts produced in the U.S. (45%); followed by snack nuts and in-shells (30%); and, candy and confections (25%).
  • Half of the top 10 selling candy bars in the U.S. contain peanuts or peanut butter.
  • Peanut oil is valued as premium cooking oil by cooks and chefs worldwide. Tasteless and odorless, peanut oil doesn't transfer food flavors, has a high smoke point (440 to 460 F.) and is high in the desirable monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Partially defatted peanuts are available in either split (halves) or granulated forms. Defatted peanuts are lower in fat, have a longer shelf life, and are higher in protein than full fat peanuts.  These peanuts have application in nutritional and diet bars, cereals, and confections.
  • Peanuts are the #1 snack nut consumed in the U.S., accounting for 2/3 of the snack nut market.
  • One of the many great advantages of peanuts and peanut butter is long shelf life. If held at average ambient temperature without great changes in heat or humidity, peanuts and peanut butter can be safely stored for several months; even longer if refrigerated.
  • Dr. George Washington Carver, research scientist at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, found over 300 uses for the peanut plant in the early 1900's. He has been called the "peanut wizard" and the "father of the modern peanut industry".

U.S. Peanut Production

U.S. peanut farmers produce around 1.9 million tons of peanuts annually on approximately 1.44 million acres.

  • The major peanut producing states are: Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, New Mexico and South Carolina.
  • Peanuts grow in sandy, loamy soils, from April to October, depending on the variety, and require 120-160 frost free days.
  • The four types of peanuts produced in the U.S. are:
    • the most common variety, the Runner type used primarily for the manufacture of peanut butter;
    • the large kerneled Virginia type, marketed mainly as snack peanuts and in the shell peanut products;
    • the Spanish type, with rounder and smaller kernels, used for snack peanuts, peanut butter and confections
    • and the longer podded Valencia type, containing three to five kernels in each shell, marketed mostly in the shell for roasting and boiling.
  • For additional information, visit the American Peanut Council web site at www.peanutsusa.com

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