Highlights of the Round-table Discussion

A group of the country’s leading scientists in the areas of nutrition, epidemiology, anthropology, public health, and food science met in a rare round-table conference to share their knowledge and to discuss what we know and what we need to know about the role of nuts in the diet. There is an emerging body of research that appears to show that nuts may play an important role in decreasing the risk factors for heart disease and possibly other chronic diseases. Future research needs were also discussed. The conference was unprecedented in the prominence of the scientists and organizations involved and in that many of the participating scholars discussed work from recently published and current research. The conference was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association and the University of California at Davis. Additional support was provided by the International Nut Council and the National Peanut Council. It was held Sept. 28 and 29, 1995 at the U.S.D.A.-A.R.S. Western Human Nutrition Center, Presidio of San Francisco. A general overview of the information shared is presented here.

Introduction: Nutritional Components of Nuts

Nuts Are Rich in Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients
Nuts are a complex plant food. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, biotin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Many nuts are also an great source of folic acid, which has been shown to reduce the instance of birth defects when taken by pregnant mothers.
Nuts may also be a source of helpful biologically active components found in plant foods, such as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds that are potentially beneficial to people, but not currently classified as vitamins or minerals. They are important “health protectants.” Phytochemicals in nuts include ellagic acid, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, luteolin (a major antioxidant), isoflavones and tocotrienols. Some nuts contain up to eight different forms of sterols, which are thought to help moderate cholesterol levels. Nuts appear to contain a number of these phytochemicals, although further analysis needs to be conducted as new technology is developed to measure exact amounts.

Not All Fat Is the Same
Despite being thought of as “bad for you,” fat is essential for our bodies to function properly. While many Americans eat too much of it, we need to consume some fat in our diets.
An ounce of nuts has between 165 and 200 calories and between 14 and 21 grams of fat. About 80% of the calories in nuts comes from fat, however, most of that fat (more than 90% on average) is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Unsaturated fats are generally thought of as the “good” fats, as opposed to artery-clogging saturated fats, mostly found in animal products, like butter and meat. Because the fat in nuts is unsaturated, nuts can actually work to lower total (or serum) cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Diets high in saturated fat contribute to high levels of total (or serum) cholesterol and to high levels of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Too much saturated fat in the diet also unfortunately reduces “good” high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Most nuts are very low in saturated fats. Opinion polls have show that many people mistakenly believe that nuts contain cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in nuts, since they are a plant product, and cholesterol is found only in animal products.

Nuts, An Ancient Food
Not only are nuts health-enhancing for modern people, they were probably one of the reasons that people first settled into villages. Recent archeological excavations at the village of Hallan Cemi in Eastern Turkey, settled 10,000 years ago, has uncovered the existence of a non-migratory society with economies centered on the harvesting of almonds and pistachios. The work of Michael Rosenberg, Ph.D., has shown that this settled village life preceded the development of agriculture. It’s possible that nut-centered societies not only preceded agricultural ones, but that the harvesting of wild nuts may have actually fostered agriculture.

Although the benefits are greatest for frequent nut eaters, those who ate nuts even once a week had 25% less
heart disease than those who avoided nuts.

Nuts should not be left out of any cholesterol lowering diet,” says Dr. Joan Sabaté.

The Role of Nuts in Disease Prevention

In addition to helping people control or prevent cardiovascular diseases, nuts might also play a role in reducing or preventing deaths attributable to diabetes and cancer.

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Consume monounsaturated fats.
Vegetable oils like canola, olive and peanut, and certain nuts including walnuts, almonds and peanuts, may increase your high-density lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol.
New research shows “peanut and peanut butter ” is wet loss diet reduces heart disease risk by 14%
Harvard study shows eating peanuts and peanut butter may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard find three times as many people stick to Medditerranean -style weight loss diet than traditional low fat diet

Additional studies show peanuts are Heart -Healthy-lowering blood cholesterol.
Effective in healing people on Mediterranean Diet-loose weight and keep it off..

More satisfying for longer period of times,than high carbohydrate snacks.

Comprised of important plant chemicals, such asphytosterols,thought to help fight heart disease and cancer.

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