14 15 OPENING LINES PEANUTS RISE TO SUPERFOOD STATUS W hen it comes to the peanut, it’s true that big things come in small packages. The peanut is a nutrient-rich powerhouse. In fact, based on a mountain of research, this mighty legume deserves superfood status.Nu- merous studies have found that the consumption of small amounts of peanuts or peanut butter has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. In fact in just the past year alone, new research has shown that those who regularly consumed peanuts had a lower risk for four kinds of cancer–breast, colorectal, esophageal and pancreatic cancers. “Studies conducted in the United States and around the world reveal that eating peanuts regularly helps prevent disease, improves life expectancy and delivers positive effects throughout the body,” says Samara Sterling, Ph.D., Director of Research for The Peanut In- stitute. “Peanuts qualify as a superfood because they’re nutrient-dense, delivering superior health benefits in a very small serving.When you compare peanuts to kale, it’s a stark dif- ference in terms of the amount you need to consume to reap the food’s benefits. For exam- ple, one serving of peanuts contains six times as much protein as a serving of raw kale and eight times as much niacin.” A serving of peanuts is one ounce or approx- imately 35 peanuts. According to Dr. Sterling, the recommended daily serving is a handful of peanuts or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Peanuts are a superfood that comes in many forms such as peanut butter, peanut oil and peanut flour. In the United States, peanuts and peanut butter are perennial favorites and account for 67 percent of all nuts eaten. That’s good news because peanuts pack a su- per punch.A one-ounce serving of peanuts,which is about a handful, is close to 170 calories and contains: n 7grams of protein–An important macronu- trient that helps you feel full and can contribute to lower blood sugar. n 19 vitamins and minerals,many of which fight heart disease–The heart-healthy vitamins and minerals delivered by peanuts include vita- min E, folic acid, niacin, magnesium, vitamin B6, zinc, copper and potassium. Peanuts are also a good source of magnesium, copper, vitamin E and biotin and an excellent source of niacin, manganese and molybdenum. n Bioactive compounds –Polyphenols, phy- tosterols, and antioxidants are plant substanc- es that offer health benefits beyond vitamins and minerals. They’ve been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease and cancer risk, lower inflammation and cholesterol and im- prove blood flow. n Healthy fats –The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in peanuts, like those in olive oil and avocados, help decrease “bad”LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol. n Fiber –Studies have shown that diets high in fiber can contribute to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Plus, high-fiber diets are associat- ed with a reduced risk of heart disease.