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Peanuts: Diet disaster or superfood?

Are you pining for peanut butter but afraid it could undo your diet? Fear no more.

Eaten in moderation, peanuts and peanut butter have a place in a healthy diet, say the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that people on a moderate-fat diet that includes peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil can achieve the same weight-loss results as those on a low-fat diet. The best news: A slightly higher fat diet is easier to stick to in the long term, so you’re less likely to regain lost pounds. Yes, peanuts (which are a legume, not a nut) contain fat—nearly 14 grams per ounce. But they contain mostly monounsaturated fat, the heart-healthy type that lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol. So substituting a small handful of peanuts for your muffin or cookie snack will boost your cardiovascular health.

Pass the peanuts

A one-ounce serving of peanuts—about 28 shelled peanuts—contains 160 calories, 7 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat and nearly 2.5 grams of fiber. But watch out! Peanuts are hard to put down once you get started. Instead of free-form snacking out of the jar, consider these ways to enjoy that peanut taste by adding small portions to other foods.

  • Swirl a tablespoonful of peanut butter into your oatmeal or add it to a smoothie.
  • Sprinkle chopped peanuts into a salad (fat increases the absorption of the salad’s cancer-fighting antioxidants) instead of using croutons or cheese.
  • Smear a tablespoon of peanut butter on a banana or apple slices for a light snack.
  • Measure small portions—along with dried fruit, if desired—into snack bags. Grab as you go!