Peanuts, once vilified as a fat-laden food allergy promoter, have been vindicated by new research suggesting they actually boost heart health.
The small study, out of Pennsylvania State University, indicates eating peanuts as part of a high-fat meal can lower levels of triglycerides — dangerous fats in the blood — and helped improve the function of blood vessels.
"Peanuts are a healthy snack when eaten as part of a healthy diet," said lead researcher Xiaoran Liu, a graduate student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State.
For the study, researchers tracked 15 overweight individuals — half of whom consumed three ounces of ground peanuts in a shake and half were given a drink without nuts.
The results showed those who consumed the peanut shake had healthier blood-fat profiles, glucose, and insulin levels and better blood vessel function, compared to those who did not.
"Previous studies have shown that individuals who consume peanuts more than two times a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease," said Liu. "This study indicates that the protective effect of peanut consumption could be due, in part, to its beneficial effect on artery health."
The Penn State team, which presented its findings at a recent meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, now plans to investigate the effects of peanut consumption on other risk factors including inflammatory markers.
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