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    All-Star of the Day: Peanuts

    Although almonds often take the “super nut” title, the peanut also needs to be recognized for its tremendous health benefits.

    Peanuts are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, the same ones that make olive oil and salmon such powerfoods. Remember, diet high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 20 percent. “Low-fat” is not the answer; “smart fat” is!

    An ounce of peanuts contains 164 calories, 7 grams of protein, 10 percent of our daily folate recommendation, 29 percent of our managenese needs, and 19 percent of our suggested niacin (vitamin B-3) intake.

    Although those figures themselves might not be groundbreaking, peanuts’ antioxidant level is extremely high, rivaling that of many fruits.

    In fact, resveratrol (the antioxidant found in grapes — and, thus, red wine — that boasts tremendous heart-healthy properties) is found in significant quantities in peanuts!

    A plant compound known as beta-sitosterol also exists naturally in peanuts, and recent research links it to reductions in rates of breast and prostate cancer.

    A 10-year study in Taiwan involving over 20,000 subjects (published in the January 2006 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology) found that the average participant who ate an ounce of peanuts twice a week lowered their risk of colon cancer by 34 percent!

    Additionally, studies at Pennsylvania State University’s nutrition department found that regular consumption of foods high in monounsaturated fats — such as peanuts — lowered triglycerides while keeping heart-healty HDL cholesterol stable, whereas a low-fat diet LOWERED HDL levels.

    Yes, peanuts are high in fat (one ounce provides 14 grams of fat), but this has proven to be a positive attribute.

    Studies at Harvard, Penn State, and even countries like Israel and Papua New Guinea all came to the same conclusion. When subjects were allowed to eat an ounce of peanuts as a snack twice a day, they reported feeling fuller and therefore eating less total calories a day!

    So, yes, you can most certainly enjoy peanut butter as a grown adult. However, be sure to buy “natural” peanut butter (Smuckers is my favorite). The ingredients? Just two – peanuts and salt.

    Most conventional peanut butter adds “partially hydrogenated oils” (the always evil trans-fats) and added sugars, which turn this all-star into a fallen celestial body.

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