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Peanuts have a beneficial impact on vascular health

A recent study published in the journal Antioxidants suggests that eating peanuts and peanut butter could have a positive impact on vascular health in young and healthy individuals. The research was led by Rosa M. Lamuela, a professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the University of Barcelona and a member of both the Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety Research (INSA-UB) and the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBEROBN).

Peanuts, derived from the leguminous plant Arachis hypogaea, are categorized as nuts in terms of their nutritional composition. As the most widely consumed nuts globally, they are a convenient, nutrient-rich snack that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Peanuts contain high levels of fatty acids, protein, fiber, and polyphenols.

Most nutritional studies typically focus on significant differences in populations with a high risk of developing a disease, especially older individuals. In this demographic, it is easier to observe the beneficial effects of modifying dietary patterns or incorporating healthy foods into a regular diet.

By contrast, this study involved 63 healthy young participants aged between 18 and 33, who included a daily portion of peanut products in their regular diet for six months. This research is the first nutritional intervention to confirm an improvement in vascular markers related to antithrombotic and vasodilator effects in healthy young people after consuming peanuts. 

“In this study group, it is more difficult to see any effect of dietary changes on health,” explained Professor Rosa M. Lamuela. “The results reveal a significant increase in urinary levels of phenolic metabolites in those young people who had eaten a daily dose of peanuts and peanut butter compared to the control group, which had eaten a cream without fiber or polyphenols.”

Furthermore, participants who consumed peanuts or peanut butter demonstrated improved levels of prostacyclin I2 and the ratio between thromboxane A2 and prostacyclin I2. These lipid molecules, known as eicosanoids, are considered markers of vascular health. 

“Interestingly, some phenolic metabolites that increased significantly after the consumption of peanut products – especially hydroxycinnamic acids – also correlated with the improvement in both markers,” said study first author Isabella Parilli-Moser.

The study supports the hypothesis presented in previous research conducted by this group, which argued for the protective effect of polyphenols – the primary antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in the diet – on cardiovascular diseases in adults, as well as their antithrombotic and vasodilator effects. 

Additionally, the consumption of nuts and peanuts has been linked to a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, primarily due to the protective effect of the polyphenols found in these foods.

The researchers emphasize that the study highlights one of the potential health benefits of including peanuts and peanut butter in our diet. However, they conclude that more studies are needed to fully understand the mechanisms that explain the positive effects of peanut consumption on vascular health.

The study was conducted as part of the ARISTOTLE project, an initiative to analyze the prebiotic and postbiotic effects of consuming peanut products, promoted by The Peanut Institute (United States). It also received support from companies in the food sector, which did not participate in the experimental design or research protocol deployed in the study.

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