A new study, released in the current British Journal of Nutrition, showed that consuming peanut butter or peanuts for breakfast can control blood sugar throughout most of the day, even after eating a high carbohydrate lunch. In addition to this “Second Meal Effect”, peanuts and peanut butter caused a significant reduction in the desire to eat for up to 12 hours and a significant increase in the secretion of the hormone PYY that promotes satiety and feelings of fullness.
The study “Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response and appetite in obese women with type 2 diabetes risk: a randomized cross-over clinical trial” was conducted jointly by Purdue University and the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil. The principal investigator, Dr Richard Mattes of Purdue University explained, “If you include peanut butter or peanuts at breakfast, you not only diminish the rise in blood sugar at breakfast but also again after lunch, helping to reduce blood sugar over a very large portion of the day.”
During three phases of the study, 1½ ounces of peanuts, 3 Tbs of peanut butter, or no peanuts or peanut butter were consumed with a breakfast consisting of orange juice and cream of wheat followed by a lunch consisting of white bread and strawberry jam. Blood samples and appetite ratings were taken over a series of three hours following breakfast and again after lunch to assess glucose control and satiety; participants were also asked to keep a food diary for the remainder of the day after leaving the testing site.
Results showed that peanut butter or peanuts included with breakfast promotes secretion of the appetite suppressing hormone peptide YY (PYY). In addition, participants who consumed peanut butter or peanuts with breakfast reported a lower desire to eat for up to 8 to 12 hours later and maintained lower blood sugar following a high carbohydrate lunch compared to participants that did not include peanut butter or peanuts. Peanut butter had a slightly stronger effect, possibly because the cell walls of the peanut are ruptured during processing and may help slow the rate that carbohydrates are absorbed from the gut, resulting in a lower glycaemic response in the blood.
The researchers suggest that it is the synergy of components in peanuts, including the high protein, high fiber, and healthy oils that help to maintain blood sugar control, as well as contribute to feelings of fullness. According to the latest USDA National Nutrient Database, peanuts contain more protein than any other nut, with about 8g of protein per 1-ounce portion, and they are also a good source of fiber with about 2.5g of fiber per 1-ounce serving.
"Combined with findings from other work, this new research provides additional reasons to start your day with peanut butter and include a snack of peanuts in the late afternoon if you want to control your appetite and blood sugar too,” said Dr Pat Kearney, program director for The Peanut Institute.
Peanut butter and peanuts are an easy, cost-effective way to add more nutrition to breakfast or snacks every day. Try pairing a whole grain bagel with peanut butter instead of butter or cream cheese, or add a handful of peanuts to oatmeal for a great high fiber, high protein meal option that will keep you feeling fuller longer.
The Peanut Institute is a non-profit organization that supports nutrition research and develops educational programs to encourage healthful lifestyles.