Peanut Consumption and Human Weight Management
The goals of this project were to evaluate in the U. S. and Brazil the nutrition of peanuts and peanut products as they relate to health benefits and satiety sensations. More specifically obesity is a global public health problem that contributes to the onset and manifestation of chronic diseases that compromises the quality of life, and causes an economic burden on health care systems. Work will follow the thesis that peanuts and peanut products do not promote weight gain while producing nutritional health benefits. An understanding of the mechanisms by which these observations occur should increase acceptance of the health benefit findings and enhance peanut consumption by consumers and strengthening marketing advantages.
In Brazil, studies showed that inclusion of peanut butter with breakfast helped control appetite and blood sugar in obese women. Data documenting the mechanisms that account for these findings were helping to reinforce the role peanut ingredients play, and the inclusion of peanut butter with breakfast may help to moderate appetite and glucose concentrations in obese women. Also evidence shows peanuts consumed in moderation do not pose a threat to weight gain allowing the recommendation to consume, in moderation, peanuts and/or peanut products. The improvement of the market perception of the healthiness of peanuts is key to expanding their consumption in the U.S. and worldwide. Preliminary analyses show in U.S. and Brazil studies that peanut consumption was associated with marked reduction in blood pressure. Cardiovascular disease is a pressing health problem globally. If this work is confirmed, it will create a strong demand for peanuts and peanut products.
A study underway in 2011 will explore ways to enhance compliance with recommendations to increase peanut consumption in the population. Questions were raised regarding the impact of sensory monotony on dietary compliance and how this related to different personality traits. The goal was to elucidate these relationships to inform the development of better dietary recommendations to improve health. Implementation will require full analysis of the data, which is expected during the 2012 phase. A new clinical study is underway in Brazil to provide insights on new potential health benefits of peanut consumption, related to antioxidant effects that should reduce cardiovascular disease risk, promote a healthy microflora mix with an array of possible health benefits ranging from reduced obesity to improved micronutrient status and a better understanding of gut permeability with implications for allergy management.
Available findings in 2012 suggest inclusion of peanuts or peanut butter in the morning meal improves day-long blood glucose concentrations and does not contribute to weight gain. Very preliminary results indicate that chronic peanut consumption is well tolerated, thus facilitating greater compliance to public health recommendations to increase peanut consumption. Publication and presentation of the results in professional and public forums distributes the Peanut CRSP supported research to a broader audience, thus should build demand for and increase peanut production. The work also provides clinicians information that may promote their recommendations to patients concerned about cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk to include more peanuts into their diets. This should provide health benefits to the individuals and spur the industry.
Dr. Richard Mattes, M.D.
Universidade Federal de Vicosa
Dr. Neuza Costa