The benefits of eating peanuts (for young and healthy people)

Consumption of these products improves memory and stress response in young adults without health complications.

A work published in the magazine Clinical Nutrition provides new insights into the healthy effects of a diet rich in nuts. Specifically, eating peanut products on a daily basis may have beneficial effects on cognitive performance and stress response in young and healthy individuals.

The work, directed by Rosa María Lamuela, director of the Institute for Research in Nutrition and Food Safety at the University of Barcelona, ​​has been carried out with a group of 63 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 33 They included a regular serving of peanut products in their daily intake.

The groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is a legume plant native to South America that was introduced to Europe in the 18th century. Photo: Shutterstock

“Most nutritional intervention studies have been done in a population with obesity, metabolic syndrome or risk of suffering from chronic diseases,” explains Professor Lamuela. “In this profile of the population at risk, it is easier to observe a beneficial effect if we change the eating pattern or introduce a healthy food into the usual diet.”

In the new study, however, it is observed “the beneficial effect of daily intake of peanut products in improving cognitive performance and stress response in a young and healthy population, which is a group where it is more difficult to observe any effect on health ”, Lamuela says.

The results also revealed an increase in short-chain fatty acids in the feces, caused by the activity of the microbiota, in addition to specific biomarkers of this nut, very long-chain saturated fatty acids and certain polyphenols, all of them related bioactive compounds. with numerous health benefits.

There is no major difference between eating peanut butter or fruit in terms of cognitive function or stress response. The age variable did not influence the statistical analyzes, all were benefited.

Peanut consumption and gut microbiota

The team has also analyzed whether introducing peanut products into a healthy diet could have a positive impact on the microbiota-gut-brain axis, and thus contribute to the prevention of future diseases.

The prebiotic substance in peanuts, such as polyphenols, can affect cognition and mood indirectly, through interactions with the gut microbiota, and improve the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

The interaction between the gut microbiota and the human brain is one of the interests of this research. Photo: Shutterstock

To corroborate these results from the nutritional study, the team included in the experiment a control group given a peanut-based placebo, but without prebiotics. In this case, it was found that it did not have the same beneficial effect.

“The high content of prebiotic fiber and polyphenols in peanuts could explain their beneficial effects on the intestinal microbiota. Due to its poor absorption, fiber and most polyphenols reach the colon directly, where they are metabolized by the microbiota. Later, they can modulate brain biochemistry as neurotransmitters of the central nervous system ”, details another of the researchers, Sara Hurtado.

“Short chain fatty acids – such as acetic, propionic and butyric acids – are the main metabolites produced by the intestinal microbiota and seem to have effects against various diseases, including depression and neurodegenerative diseases “.

This work presents promising results that must be confirmed in studies with a larger group of people.

Work is part of Aristotle project, an initiative to analyze the prebiotic and postbiotic effects of the consumption of peanut products (peanuts, in Spain), promoted by The Peanut Institute (United States).

The research has also had the support of companies linked to the food sector that have not participated in the experimental design or the research protocol used in the study. (I)

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