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Peanuts May Prevent Heart Disease

Research conducted by a team of scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that peanuts are another rich dietary source of heart-healthy resveratrol. Recent studies on this plant compound found in red wine and grapes show that resveratrol may help reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer.

The research conducted by Dr. Tim Sanders from the USDA Agricultural Research Service in North Carolina. Dr. Sanders, and his colleague, Dr. Robert W. McMichael, Jr., found that peanuts have a significant amount of resveratrol in both the kernel and skin. The average amount of resveratrol in one ounce of peanuts (without skin) is 73 mcg/g. In comparison, red wine contains approximately 160 mcg/fluid ounce.

Resveratrol's presence in red wine has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and it has been credited as a factor in the "French Paradox" (despite a high-fat diet, the French have a surprisingly low rate of heart disease). More recently, research using resveratrol extracted from grapes showed a reduced risk of cancer in animals.

It is not yet known exactly how resveratrol functions as a healthful factor in food. Some research has shown that resveratrol can inhibit the build-up of platelets in blood vessels. It is also a potent antioxidant which can reduce the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol.

This new USDA research appears to support epidemiological studies that show nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease by more than half when eaten frequently in small amounts. There may be several factors in peanuts that contribute to this healthful effect. Peanuts are an excellent food source of vitamin E. They also provide approximately 2 grams of fiber per ounce, and have relatively high amounts of folic acid, thiamin, niacin, copper, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc. They are high in plant protein and the fat content is primarily monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Jeff Johnson, president of The Peanut Institute, said, "We always felt that peanuts were a powerhouse of nutrients. Now we are excited by having the USDA research team quantify this information on resveratrol for the first time."

The Peanut Institute is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to supporting nutrition research, education, and the assessment of healthful eating patterns throughout the human life cycle. For further information call 1-888-8PEANUT.

Last Updated ( Mar 08, 2011 at 12:34 PM )