Eating peanuts may keep heart disease at bay

01 April 2017

Eating peanuts with meals may help to prevent heart attacks and stroke, new research claims.

After a meal, there is a spike in blood lipids, and triglycerides - a type of fat found in the bloodstream - which stiffens arteries and may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Now, researchers led by a team at Penn State have found that overweight and obese but otherwise healthy men who ate about three ounces of peanuts with a high-fat meal had a "blunted increase of lipids" in their bloodstream.

According to the study, there was a 32 percent reduction in the triglyceride levels after the consumption of a peanut meal compared to a control group.

"Typically, whenever we eat something, it causes the arteries to get a little bit stiffer during the post-meal period, but we have shown that if you eat peanuts with your meal, this can help prevent the stiffening response," said Professor Penny Kris-Etherton. "When the stiffening response happens in the cells that line the arteries, resulting in decreased elasticity in the arteries, it can limit the availability of nitric oxide, and when there's less nitric oxide, the arteries don't dilate that much. What you want is a dilation of the arteries and for them to be really elastic."

Professor Kris-Etherton added that eating peanuts can keep the cells that line the arteries healthy, helping them stay more elastic.

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"After a meal, triglycerides increase and this typically decreases the dilation of the arteries, but the peanuts prevent that big increase in triglycerides after the meal," she said. "And that may be the mechanism behind this effect, because the triglycerides are not getting so high, which may explain why there is not a decrease in artery elasticity."

Going forward, the researchers said that future studies should have more participants and include both men and women.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Nutrition.

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