I’ve been concerned about sandwich variety in my daughter’s lunch since every day for the past year and a half she has only wanted half of a peanut butter sandwich. I have offered tuna, ham and Swiss, egg salad, sliced turkey — any type of sandwich that I could think of, but the answer is always the same, “peanut butter.” After reading that girls who eat peanut butter may improve breast health later in life I’m relaxing.
A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment reported on the work from senior author Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The research showed that girls ages 9 to 15 who regularly ate peanut butter or nuts were 39 percent less likely to develop benign breast disease by the age of 30. Benign breast disease is noncancerous, but it does increase the risk of developing breast cancer later on in life.
“These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women,” Colditz said.
The findings were based on the health histories of 9,039 U.S. girls enrolled in The Growing Up Today Study. In 1996, the girls were ages 9–15. They completed a questionnaire every other year from 2001 to 2010 that obtained data on a variety of foods. When the participants were 18-30 years old, they reported whether they had ever had a confirmed breast biopsy for benign breast disease.
The participants who reported eating peanut butter or nuts two times each week were 39 percent less likely to have developed benign breast disease than those who never ate either. Girls with a family history of breast cancer had significantly lower risk if they consumed these foods or vegetable fat. It was further suggested by the results of this study that beans, lentils, soybeans and corn also may help prevent benign breast disease. Consumption of these foods was found to be much lower in the girls in the study so the evidence was weaker.
Past research studies have linked peanut butter, nut fat and vegetable fat consumption to a lower risk for benign breast disease. Those studies, however, asked participants recall their high school dietary intake years later. This recent study is the first to use reports made during adolescence, and also provide continued follow-up as cases of benign breast disease are diagnosed in young women.
Peanuts contain resveratrol, which is an antioxidant called a polyphenol that may help prevent damage to blood vessels. Research shows that resveratrol may be linked to reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting. Peanuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and have been shown to promote weight management when consumed as part of a diet that is moderate in fat intake because of peanuts satiating effect.
Because of the high incidence of obesity, Colditz recommends that girls replace high-calorie junk foods and sugary beverages with peanut butter or nuts.
Peanuts are actually a legume since they grow underground as compared to nuts such as walnuts or almonds that grow on trees.
Nutrition Facts: 1 ounce of raw peanuts contains 161 calories, 7.3 grams protein, 4.6 grams carbs, 2.4 grams dietary fiber, 14 grams total fat of that 1.9 is saturated, 6.9 monounsaturated and 4.4 polyunsaturated.
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Penobscot Community Health Care in Bangor. She provides nutrition consultant services through Mainely Nutrition in Athens. Read her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.