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Ask Tufts Experts July 2013 Issue

Q. When considering the health benefits of peanuts, should they be viewed as legumes or nuts? And is natural peanut butter, with no added ingredients, as healthy as eating plain peanuts?

A. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory, replies: “Though a legume by botanical classification, the nutrient profile of whole peanuts (including the skin) is more similar to tree nuts than other legumes. For example, peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fat, niacin and vitamin E, and contain fiber, protein and minerals like magnesium and copper. Though more fat calories may be absorbed from peanut butter than from the matrix of the whole peanut, it too provides these healthful nutrients except the antioxidant phytochemicals found in
the skin.”

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