Virginia is for Peanut Lovers


Health headlines sometime drive me nuts. As a nutrition professional, my inbox overflows with the wackiest claims, pitches for expensive miracle foods, poorly run studies and the latest diet craze. And if Dr. Oz happened to mention it, I’m definitely in for a wild ride that day because everyone and their mother want to talk about it.

peanut2So how do you know what trends are worth following and what claims are for real? More importantly, how do you have time to get the bottom of the latest nutrition story and figure out how to incorporate it into your busy life? We all know you’re not sitting down to read a NIH study as you catch every red light between the Beltway and your neighborhood.

Here’s what’s even crazier: These trends and studies change all the time. Let’s take, for example, the 1990s. It was a glorious decade when Peace Frog t-shirts and bucket hats were in (I’ve got the embarrassing yearbook pictures to prove it), and any dietary source of fat was out. Thankfully, we’ve come to our senses on all fronts (even though RGIII is bringing back the bucket hat). We’ve finally busted one of the biggest nutrition myths of all time: that all fats are bad.

This year, we have a lot of food and nutrition trends I can definitely get behind: buying local products (something I hope becomes more than simply a trend); buying more “natural” foods that are less processed; and above all, buying on a budget.

Peanuts – one of those sources of healthy fat – are as on-trend as you can get. Peanuts are a Virginian’s best friend, and they hit all of the marks. Local, you say? Yes, Virginia, we have peanut farms. According to 2012 statistics, in a nut shell (see what I did there?), Virginia produced 84 million pounds of peanuts across 20,000 planted acres with the help of 175 peanut farmers. Since the first commercial crop arose in Sussex County in the mid- 1840s, peanuts have been an area mainstay. Even the Union soldiers took them back home. But it wasn’t until the early 1900s that peanuts took hold as a strong Southern crop once boll weevils destroyed much of the cotton in the area. Today, peanuts are a multi-million dollar industry, and we expect to see them everywhere from tailgate parties to salad bars.
It almost seems ridiculous to suggest that a simple and inexpensive, nontropical, totally un-sexy Virginia-based legume could be the start of a healthy change for your family. But it has all of the right components that we look for when deciding to make a health change. “Women are busier than ever juggling career, family, and much more. Nutritious choices like peanuts provide the protein, energy and nutrients needed to maintain a vibrant, active lifestyle. On top of the everyday benefits, roasted salted peanuts have recently earned the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Mark. When you consider taste, culinary versatility and value, you can’t beat peanuts as part of a healthy diet!” says Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietitian and nutrition expert for the National Peanut Board.

Those studies that constantly roll into my inbox show the peanut to be a solid nutrition choice. Here are just some of the reasons to love this inexpensive but nutrition-rich local legume:

Recent research shows adding peanut butter to your breakfast can help control blood sugar levels and cravings and help with weight loss.

Peanuts are a protein powerhouse and give you 15% of the daily value of protein per serving.

A single ounce of peanuts contains 17.5% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of folate, which is crucial for pregnant women.

Peanuts are heart healthy. They contain the antioxidant resveratrol, which is the same compound found in red wine.

Studies indicate that eating peanuts and other legumes at least once a week lowers the risk of heart disease by 25%. Eating them five or more times a week means double the protection.

Virginia peanuts are good for your wallet and your heart, and by consuming them, you’re helping support local Virginia peanut farmers. They’re a versatile addition to your kitchen, and this on-thego, protein-packed snack from the National Peanut Board is one of my client favorites!

Check out the recipe of Crunchy Energizing Peanut Butter Balls!

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