If you’ve been avoiding nuts because of their high fat content, you might want to consider adding them back into your diet again. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has shown that peanuts are just as nutritious as their higher end cousin – tree nuts. This study could not have been published at a better time because National Peanut Day is just around the corner on September 13. Although peanuts are botanically legumes, they are very similar to tree nuts. But what is it about both peanuts and tree nuts that makes them so healthy?
Most nuts are high in healthy, unsaturated fats in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated forms. Research has shown that an increased consumption of unsaturated fatty acids can help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, which in turns decreases the risk of heart disease.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Aside from having high levels of unsaturated fats, many nuts are high specifically in omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are also abundant in many kinds of deep-sea fish like salmon and tuna, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources to find them.
Vitamin E is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (the other three are vitamins A, D and K), so it perfectly complements the fat content in nuts. Some research has shown that vitamin E may help stop the development of plaque in your arteries, which can narrow them and lead to coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
Nuts are fiber powerhouses. Just one ounce of almonds contains 3.5 grams of fiber, which is about 14% of the daily recommended intake. Fiber plays a big role in lowering cholesterol, and it helps prevent sugar spikes after big meals. It also makes you feel full sooner and for longer periods of time, meaning you’ll be less inclined to overeat.
Selenium is a mineral found in many kinds of nuts, but is particularly abundant in Brazil nuts. It’s essential for our bodies and helps support the immune system. If your diet is low on selenium, your body might not be able to defend itself as well as it could.
Now that you know the health benefits of peanuts and tree nuts, it’s time to incorporate them into your diet. Add nuts to your breakfast oatmeal, top your salads with a variety of them, blend some nut butter into your favorite smoothie, or just eat them as an afternoon snack.
What are some of your favorite dishes that include peanuts or tree nuts? Share in the comments below.