By now, most people know that peanuts are more than just a tasty snack. As delicious as they are, we are also aware that they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds that keep our bodies in good overall health.
However, what you might not realize is that there are a multitude of reasons peanuts are considered a superfood. Plus, it turns out that eating peanuts and peanut butter is especially beneficial for men!
Heart disease and cancer are two diseases that affect men. Research has shown that regular consumption of peanuts can help reduce the risk for both diseases. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently recommends consuming 1.5 oz. of peanuts per day for a healthy heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States. Major risk factors for heart disease include elevated blood lipids, high blood pressure, and obesity. Diets that are rich in plant foods like peanuts can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.
According to a 2018 review, “studies indicate a strong and significant association between nut intake and decreased risk for non-fatal coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, and sudden death.”
The study, which examined both peanuts and tree nuts, highlighted some of the main compounds that deliver those beneficial effects.
Arginine – This compound helps to relax blood vessels and keep them flexible. Peanuts contain more arginine than most foods and more than any other nut.
Unsaturated fatty acids — Peanuts contain high amounts of linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fat that is associated with decreased inflammation and reduced risk of heart disease.
Phytosterols – Phytosterols block cholesterol absorption from the intestines, which helps to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among men and women globally. The array of phytochemicals in peanuts do their part to protect against many cancers that affect men.
While diets that are high in certain processed foods increase the risk for many cancers, a diet that emphasizes plant foods like peanuts is protective against cancer. Plant foods contain phytochemicals, some of which block the activation of cancer-causing substances and enhance the immune system. In fact, over 25,000 phytochemicals have been identified as cancer-protective substances, and peanuts contain a large number of them.
For example, phytosterols in peanuts inhibit both colon and prostate cancer cells. These chemicals have blocked prostate cancer cell growth by as much as 40%.
There are even more benefits contained in peanut skins. A 2018 study showed that compounds found in the skins inhibit human prostate cancer cells from growing and induce cancer cell death.
Additionally, resveratrol in peanuts protects against cancer by preventing toxicity to cells. Resveratrol is also protective against skin, stomach, and pancreatic cancers.
If you are a man who is into fitness, then you may know that adding peanuts to your workout routine can help you reach your fitness goals.
First, peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein, which is essential for building muscle. Eating just one ounce of peanuts after workouts provides 7 grams of high-quality protein, which is more than what’s in any other nut. This is close to the amount you’ll find in one ounce of grilled steak.
The protein in peanuts is also involved in making hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells that carries oxygen. More oxygen can mean more stamina over time during workouts.
Eating a handful of peanuts before exercise can also help to sustain your energy throughout your workout routine due to the healthy fats and fiber that are abundant in peanuts. Both will help you feel fuller longer, which could help you to continue your workout for longer periods of time.
Men who are trying to lose weight should not be worried that the peanut’s fat content will cause weight gain. Although peanuts are energy dense, scientific evidence suggests that peanut consumption is not associated with weight gain. In fact, peanut consumption has been associated with lower body mass index and an ability to maintain a healthy weight over time.
Whether trying to build muscle or lose weight, try adding peanut powder to your workout shakes or eating a handful of peanuts daily to help you reach your goals.
When it comes to sexual health, men are often concerned about three areas: libido, erectile function, and fertility.
Did you know that eating peanuts can help with all three?
It’s true. Peanuts contain more arginine than most foods and more than any other nut. Arginine is an amino acid that is important for producing nitric oxide, a compound that helps to relax blood vessels and keep them flexible. Nitric oxide triggers erections by encouraging blood flow to the penis.
Recent animal studies have also identified arginine’s potential to increase libido and reduce infertility, likely by increasing nitric oxide levels.
For example, a 2018 study showed that boars who consumed dietary arginine exhibited improved libido performance compared with boars who received none. The same study found that increased arginine levels were associated with better semen quality and higher sperm count.
Peanuts also contain resveratrol, a phytochemical that may positively impact sexual health. A study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that diabetic rats who received resveratrol experienced a reversal of erectile dysfunction. The authors noted that this effect was likely due to resveratrol’s antioxidant abilities.
These bioactive compounds in peanuts can provide a boost for your sexual health.
A perfect choice for men
Men can do their health a favor by including this superfood in their diets. Not only can peanut consumption contribute to sexual health; it can support fitness goals as well as protect against common diseases that affect men.
How much should you eat?
Just a handful of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter each day can help you reap the health benefits. Fortunately, there are a variety of forms to choose from—snack peanuts, peanut butter, or peanut powder—that will help you eat peanuts regularly. Luckily too, all forms are tasty, so you can eat healthy and enjoy it at the same time!
This blog post is based on numerous scientific reviews and studies. For more information, please see the references cited below.
- Arya, S.S., A.R. Salve, and S. Chauhan, Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol, 2016. 53(1): p. 31-41.
- Nam, E., et al., Transdermal water-in-oil nanocarriers of nitric oxide for triggering penile erection. Sci Rep, 2018. 8(1): p. 7312.
- Chen, J.Q., et al., Dietary l-arginine supplementation improves semen quality and libido of boars under high ambient temperature. Animal, 2018. 12(8): p. 1611-1620.
- Sales, J.M. and A.V. Resurreccion, Resveratrol in peanuts. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2014. 54(6): p. 734-70.
- Yu, W., et al., Resveratrol, an activator of SIRT1, restores erectile function in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Asian J Androl, 2013. 15(5): p. 646-51.
- Cintineo, H.P., et al., Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training. Front Nutr, 2018. 5: p. 83.
- USDA Nutrient Database. 16090, Peanuts, all types, dry-roasted, with salt. 2018; Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
- USDA Nutrient Database. Beef, short loin, porterhouse steak, separable lean only, trimmed to 1/8″ fat, choice, cooked, grilled. 2018; Available from: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source: Protein. 2018; Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/.
- Rebello, C., F.L. Greenway, and N.V. Dhurandhar, Functional foods to promote weight loss and satiety. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 2014. 17(6): p. 596-604.
- Tan, S.Y., J. Dhillon, and R.D. Mattes, A review of the effects of nuts on appetite, food intake, metabolism, and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014. 100 Suppl 1: p. 412s-22s.
- Jackson, C.L. and F.B. Hu, Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014. 100 Suppl 1: p. 408s-11s.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leading Causes of Death. 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., Heart Disease Facts. 2017.
- Satija, A. and F.B. Hu, Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine, 2018.
- Bitok, E. and J. Sabaté, Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 2018.
- Harris, W.S., et al., Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease. A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association Nutrition Subcommittee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism; Council on Cardiovascular Nursing; and Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, 2009. 119(6): p. 902-907.
- Administration, F.a.D., Qualified Health Claims about Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Nuts and Heart Disease. 2003.
- World Health Organization. Cancer: Key Facts. 2018; Available from: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cancer.
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2018. 2018; Available from: https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2018/cancer-facts-and-figures-2018.pdf.
- Abid, Z., A.J. Cross, and R. Sinha, Meat, dairy, and cancer. Am J Clin Nutr, 2014. 100 Suppl 1: p. 386s-93s.
- Craig, W.J. and A.R. Mangels, Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc, 2009. 109(7): p. 1266-82.
- Dreher, M.L., Dietary Patterns, Whole Plant Foods, Nutrients and Phytochemicals in Colorectal Cancer Prevention and Management, in Dietary Patterns and Whole Plant Foods in Aging and Disease. 2018, Springer International Publishing: Cham. p. 521-555.
- Anand, P., et al., Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Pharmaceutical Research, 2008. 25(9): p. 2097-2116.
- Awad, A.B., et al., Peanuts as a Source of β-Sitosterol, a Sterol With Anticancer Properties. Nutrition and Cancer, 2000. 36(2): p. 238-241.
- Chen, L., et al., Procyanidin from peanut skin induces antiproliferative effect in human prostate carcinoma cells DU145. Chem Biol Interact, 2018. 288: p. 12-23.
Dr. Samara Sterling is a Nutrition Scientist with expertise in the use of plant-based nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. She currently serves as the Research Director for The Peanut Institute and has also worked as a nutrition consultant for various community-based nutrition projects. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University, a master’s degree from Andrews University and a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.