It is a well-known fact that foods containing nuts reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is primarily because of their fatty acid profile. However, might other constituents in nuts bring about this effect, too? Peanuts are the "nuts" that are consumed the most worldwide. Strictly speaking, they are actually pulses rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, magnesium and folic acid. A U.S. study carried out by Purdue University in Indiana investigated the effects of the long-term consumption of peanuts on blood lipid levels and on the concentration of magnesium in the blood. To do this, 15 healthy adults were assigned to three groups. The first group was provided 636 kcal in the form of peanuts. However, this group had the freedom to select its food at will; thus, it was not mandatory for it to eat the peanuts. The second group consumed 1000 kcal in peanuts for a period of three weeks. The third group also received 1000 kcal in peanuts. Here, the test phase lasted for eight weeks, and the dietary fats normally consumed were replaced by 500 kcal in peanuts. Results: Energy intake increased in all subjects by way of greater intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. By contrast, the assimilation of saturated fatty acids remained relatively stable. The level of triglycerides in the blood decreased in all study participants. This effect was most pronounced in the second group, and least in evidence in the first group. Triglycerides are also blood lipids. Raised values are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the peanuts increased the quantity of fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin E and copper in the study diet and increased the level of magnesium in blood serum.
Conclusion: Regular consumption of peanuts reduces triglyceride levels and increases the concentration of magnesium in the blood. Overall, the consumption of healthy nutrients that are associated with a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
Alper CM. et al.: Peanut consumption improves indices of cardiovascular disease risk in healthy adults. J Am Coll Nutr., Apr 2003