If holiday excesses have you feeling like the proverbial fatted calf, you’re not alone. After all the canapés, cookies and candy, you probably think a handful of nuts is relatively insignificant. But what if such nuts — specifically peanuts — could hold the secret of helping to curb some of the effects of other, unfortunate dietary choices? Sound intriguing? We thought so!
At the Dole Nutrition Institute, we work closely with our other academic and scientific partners at the North Carolina Research Campus. Among them is the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, whose provocative new findings on the anti-obesity potential of peanut skins are being published in the journal Food Chemistry. Our colleagues wanted to explore how bioavailable — i.e., how easily absorbed by the body — the polyphenolic compounds found in peanut skins might be, with a view towards reducing fat and cholesterol in the blood. To check this out they put rats on the equivalent of a holiday diet — lots of fat, lots of carbs, etc. — but dosed some of the chow with peanut skin extract. While all the rats gained weight, those with the most peanut extract gained 21% less weight, while also enjoying 55% lower blood triglycerides and 56% lower VLDL cholesterol (the very worst kind).
Why might this be? The authors suspect polyphenols might be able to positively affect the genes coding for fatty acid metabolism through a variety of signaling mechanisms. While more research would be needed to confirm similar benefits for humans, there are other reasons to add nuts to your diet in 2014. We recently reported that a daily serving of nut protein might help reduce the risk of benign breast disease. Previously, Harvard researchers found that eating 5 oz. of nuts — including peanuts — weekly could lower gallstone risk by up to 34%. Read our round up of healthy nut news – which nut has what benefits — by clicking here. If you’re feeling like a nut — or two — we suggest trying our featured recipe: Pineapple Chicken Lettuce Cups.