Peanuts and peanut butter are protein powerhouses, providing 15% of the Daily Value of protein per serving (one ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter).
Nutrient dense peanuts and peanut butter contain many vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the standard American diet. (Just one ounce of peanuts contains nearly half of the thirteen vitamins necessary for the body's growth and maintenance and 35% of the twenty minerals needed!)
One ounce of peanuts contains 17.5% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) level of Folate. (The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation recommends including folate in the diet in the earliest weeks of pregnancy for preventing neural tube birth defects. Additionally, studies have shown that folate consumption may aid in decreasing the incidence of stroke and coronary disease among the elderly.)
The New England Journal of Medicine reported in a May 2, 1996 article, that "the intake of Vitamin E from food is inversely associated with the risk of death from coronary heart disease." One ounce of peanuts supplies 23% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) or Vitamin E.
Current research suggests that many of the minerals found in peanuts - copper, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, and calcium - may have a protective effect for coronary heart disease.
The beneficial plant fat in peanuts which is about 85% unsaturated (considered the "good fat"), may help lower cholesterol levels when it replaces saturated animal fat in the diet.
A study conducted by Fraser and colleagues of Loma Linda University has indicated that consumption of nuts at least once per week lowers the risk of heart disease by 25 percent. (Of the 31,200 people surveyed, peanuts accounted for 32% of the nuts eaten.) Consumption of nuts five or more times a week doubles the protection, the study concluded.
Each one ounce serving of peanuts contains 2.6 grams of dietary fiber, or "roughage" valuable in the body's waste elimination process.
Newly developed diet pyramids based on traditionally healthy diets, such as the Asian and Mediterranean diets, create a separate category for nuts and legumes which emphasizes their nutritional contribution to the diet and recommends increased consumption levels.
Scientists have recently suggested that people with diabetes may benefit from eating peanuts because they have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how much blood glucose rises when a particular food is consumed. Low response foods like peanuts are helpful in the control of diabetes because they cause a smaller rise in blood glucose levels.
The Iowa Women's Health Study which included 40,000 postmenopausal women found a connection between nut consumption and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Research conducted by USDA Agricultural Research Service in 1997 found that peanuts contain resveratrol, the compound that's believed to give red wine its heart healthy properties.