Peanuts are a popular snack. Consuming peanuts is also associated with improved cholesterol levels, especially in people with higher blood concentrations. However, it was not known whether the processing of peanuts would influence this health benefit. A multi-centre project recently tested this assumption and found no differences between processed or unprocessed peanuts.
In the study a total of 118 persons from Brazil, Ghana and the United States ate 56 g of peanuts daily for four weeks. The research team randomly assigned participants to consume unprocessed peanuts, unsalted roasted peanuts, salted roasted peanuts, honey roasted peanuts or peanut butter. To determine the effects, cholesterol levels of the subjects were measured both before and after the study period.
Lower cholesterol levels
The results confirm the difference in the effect on persons with normal and higher cholesterol levels. Significant lower cholesterol concentrations after eating peanuts were seen in persons who had high cholesterol levels at the start of the study. They not only had lower total cholesterol levels, the “bad”-cholesterol also decreased significantly. No significant results were seen in participants with normal cholesterol levels at the start.
Interestingly, no differences in cholesterol effects were observed when comparing the different types peanuts. According to the authors this suggests that peanut processing does not compromise the cholesterol-lowering properties.
Further study should confirm the beneficial effects of processed peanuts on cholesterol, as currently there has been only a limited amount of research in this area. Additionally, to gain a better understanding of the health effects of processed peanuts, research should focus on health factors other than cholesterol.
McKiernan F, Lokko P, Kuevi A, Sales RL, Costa NM, Bressan J, Alfenas RC, Mattes RD.
Effects of peanut processing on body weight and fasting plasma lipids. Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug;104(3):418-26. Epub 2010 May 11.