Peanuts contain monounsaturated fats and plant sterols that may help improve cholesterol levels. Peanuts are also a good source of plant-based protein, which may help with weight loss.
Peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil may all be beneficial for cholesterol. Although high in calories, eating them in moderation may also help people maintain a moderate weight as part of a healthy diet.
This article looks at how peanuts affect cholesterol, ways to include them in the diet, and other tips for managing cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that the liver makes. It is also present in some foods. Diet and lifestyle factors can affect how much cholesterol is in the bloodstream.
Certain proteins, called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol around the body. There are two main types of cholesterol:
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. A combination of high triglyceride levels, high LDL and low HDL levels may increase the risk of plaques forming in the arteries.
Total cholesterol is the measurement of both LDL and HDL cholesterol in the blood.
Learn about the causes of high cholesterol.
Peanuts are a source of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats help reduce LDL cholesterol and help protect heart health.
Peanuts contain a range of compounds that help prevent cholesterol absorption from dietary sources. These compounds include:
Phytosterols may help improve cholesterol levels and lower LDL cholesterol by up to 14%, helping to reduce cardiovascular risks.
Peanuts are also high in arginine, an amino acid that helps improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and may be beneficial in treating heart-related disease.
According to a 2020 article, low cholesterol diets that focus on plant-based protein and fats, including nuts, peanuts, and peanut butter, are linked to lower mortality rates than diets with animal-based protein and fats, such as lamb, pork, or chicken.
A 2021 review looked at the effects of peanuts and tree nuts on people with diabetes. The research suggests that a daily intake of peanuts and tree nuts may significantly reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.
There was no evidence that daily intake of peanuts and tree nuts altered concentrations of LDL or HDL cholesterol. This suggests peanuts may be a helpful addition in monitoring blood fats in people with type 2 diabetes.
Although peanuts are high in calories, they may help people maintain a moderate weight. A 2019 study found that increasing nut consumption of any type, including peanuts, may help reduce weight gain in the long term. Replacing less healthy foods with nuts and including them as part of a healthy diet may help prevent obesity.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), excess weight may contribute to higher LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol levels. Losing as little as 5–10% of body weight may help a person improve their cholesterol levels.
Learn more about the nutritional benefits of peanuts.
According to the AHA, the recommended serving size for nuts — including peanuts — is either a small handful or 1.5 ounces of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter.
People may choose to consume peanuts in the form of:
Palm oil and palm kernel oil are sources of saturated fat, which may increase cholesterol. A person should look for peanut butter without these ingredients and without added sugars.
People can eat peanuts raw or roasted. Excess salt can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health conditions, so look for unsalted peanuts and peanut butter with low salt. Eating peanuts with their skin on may increase their antioxidant content.
People can use peanut oil for cooking, salad dressings, or marinades, such as peanut sauce.
Learn more about the different types of fat.
A person can consider other ways to help lower LDL and increase HDL cholesterol. This includes:
- limiting intake of saturated fats found in meat, dairy, and tropical oils
- limiting intake of trans fats found in baked goods, fried foods, or foods containing hydrogenated oils
- including healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, oily fish, olives, and seeds
- using liquid plant oils, such as sunflower, canola, or olive oil
- increasing soluble fiber intake by eating foods such as oats, lentils, beans, barley, fruits, and vegetables
- eating plant sterols, compounds that occur naturally in plant foods and may fortify certain foods such as cereals, low fat yogurt, and milk
- increasing physical activity, particularly aerobic and resistance exercise, and aiming for 30–60 minutes per day
- achieving and maintaining a moderate weight
- limiting alcohol intake to reduce triglyceride levels, and lower the risk of high blood pressure and obesity
- quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
- taking cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, if necessary
Learn about lowering cholesterol naturally without medication.
Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which help reduce LDL cholesterol. Limiting saturated and trans fats and replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help improve cholesterol levels.
Peanuts also contain phytosterols, which help to lower LDL cholesterol. Peanuts are rich in arginine, which may help to improve blood vessel health and lower blood pressure.
Peanuts are a good source of plant protein, and eating them in moderation as part of a healthy diet may help people avoid weight gain. Reducing excess weight can help to increase HDL cholesterol levels while decreasing LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
People can eat peanuts raw or roasted, as peanut butter, or use peanut oil in cooking and sauces. A daily serving consists of a small handful of peanuts or 2 tbsp of peanut butter.