For as long as one can remember, a handful of peanuts have been enjoyed as a tasty and easily accessible snack among people universally. Talk about Indians, and we love our chakhna (light snack) in the evening, when those unprecedented hunger pangs strike. But, now there is the stress of what this nut intake might do to our body, especially if we can’t put our hands down once the popping begins.
Like you, there are several others who want to know whether eating peanuts can cause weight gain or not. Do you need to stop eating them altogether or do you simply need to exercise control over the portion size? Hold your horses, we have a few answers. (Hint: it’s not all bad news!)
To Go Peanuts Or To Not Go Peanuts
Let’s begin with a simple study published in 2008 in the Journal of Nutrition – it states that individuals who eat peanuts regularly report a lower weight on the scale than those who don’t eat them. Now that’s a positive start.
The International Journal of Epidemiology also published a study in 2015 which suggested that legumes and tree nuts, such as peanuts, contain healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids), fibre, multiple vitamins, bioactive compounds and antioxidants. Together they can help reduce the risk of death resulting from neurodegenerative, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as diabetes. As recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration, a serving size of 1.5 ounces per day can help cut our risk of cardiovascular disease.
What About Weight Loss?
Weight watchers need not fret; peanuts might in fact aid weight loss, rather than making you pack on extra kilos. And how is that? Well, these crunchy bites are full of fibre and protein and tend to make you feel fuller for longer, thus reducing your total calorie intake for the day.
According to a study done at the Penn State University, a weight loss meal plan that included peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter as healthy fat options, helped participants sustain their weight loss for a longer period of time as compared to low-fat diets.
The European Journal of Nutrition published a review in 2014 advocating that a diet including higher amounts of unsaturated fats, specifically monounsaturated fats, could help trigger greater weight loss as compared to one packed with saturated fats.
Metabolism plays a key role in weight loss and peanuts are part of this equation too – they could boost the rate at which your body burns calories! According to research done at the Purdue University, individuals who ate peanuts consistently for about 19 weeks reported an 11 per cent increase in their resting metabolism (as compared to the baseline).
How Much Can You Eat?
So the verdict is pretty obvious – eating peanuts daily may not necessarily lead to weight gain. Yet, we need to be careful about how much we consume if we wish to effectively lose weight; otherwise the effects could easily be reversed. It is true that nuts are an energy-dense, high-fat food and could significantly up our daily calorie intake, especially if eaten mindlessly.
“You can eat a fistful of peanuts daily without worrying about weight gain. They are packed with fibre and protein, so they provide satiety for a longer period of time,” informs Delhi-based nutritionist, Avni Kaul. However, she cautions, “Avoid purchasing flavoured peanuts as they are loaded with sugar; the best thing is to get them from your local vendor or guys selling them on traditional thelas. The fat in peanuts is mostly unsaturated and quite healthy for you.”
Join us as we go ‘pea’nuts in our endeavour to lose weight!