Good For You: Peanuts and Peanut Butter

As you fly the friendly skies this summer or head to the ballpark, you may want to say "Yes!" to peanuts. Recent research has not only shown that peanuts and peanut butter are good for us, but has also credited these popular foods with reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In fact, researchers recently found that people who were able to include most types of nuts into their diets two or more times per week had a significantly lower risk of gaining weight compared to those who never or rarely ate nuts. Beware of Brazil nuts, however, which are a significant source of saturated fat and may not have the same benefits.

Why nuts? Well, first of all, they're high in unsaturated fat, fiber, and protein, all of which help to make you feel fuller longer. In fact, they will leave you feeling more satisfied than a rice cake will, or a helping of popcorn or any other high-carbohydrate, low-fat, low-protein food.

And, if you're a peanut-butter lover, consuming five or more servings of peanut butter each week (equivalent to five ounces of peanuts) may confer benefits to your health similar to those of eating the peanuts whole - and could also help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Before you decide to switch to a peanut diet, however, remember that nuts and peanut butter are very dense in calories, thus making portion control a must. The serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons, and the serving size for peanuts is about one ounce. The following portion-control tips can help you gauge your intake:

  • Measure out individual serving sizes of peanuts and place single portions into Ziploc® bags for on-the-go snacks.
  • Use a real tablespoon measure to determine portion sizes of peanut butter.
  • Eat your peanuts in conjunction with a low-calorie filler such as carrot sticks or as part of a salad.