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Peanut Butter Has This Major Effect on Your Brain Health, New Study Says

It's the perfect food for thought!
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Nuts like almonds and walnuts have been associated with better cognitive function and even living a longer life, but peanuts are often up for question due to the fact that they're not as well-researched and are technically in the legume family.

However, in a fascinating new study from the University of Barcelona, researchers found that there is in fact a strong connection between eating peanuts or peanut butter and overall improved brain health.

Continue reading to learn more about the study's findings, and for more healthy eating tips make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

The study


Researchers from this study acknowledged that although there is existing research on the cognitive health benefits of eating nuts, very limited research has been done specifically on peanuts or peanut products.

So, they set out to see how peanut products could positively affect the brain health of healthy young adults between the ages of 18 and 33, which included testing their memory function, as well as their anxiety and depression scores as well.

Researchers put participants in one of three groups for the duration of the 6-month trial: one group that consumed skin roasted peanuts, one that had peanut butter, and a group that consumed what they referred to as a "control" butter.

This control butter, which was made up of very similar macronutrients as peanuts or peanut butter, was different in that it didn't contain any fiber or phenolic compounds.

The Final Verdict On Whether Almond or Peanut Butter is Healthier

What they discovered

peanut butter

After 6 months, they discovered that overall, peanuts and peanut butter had a positive effect on the cognitive health of the participants.

Those that ate the skin roasted peanuts or the peanut butter saw an improvement in their "immediate" memory recall, and the study found that the peanut butter group specifically saw a positive change in their overall memory function and tests.

Interestingly enough, only the group that ate the peanuts (not the peanut butter) saw a reduction in anxiety, but all three groups (peanuts, peanut butter, and control butter) saw a reduction in depression symptoms.

Speaking of peanut butter, here's The Best & Worst Peanut Butters-Ranked!

The brain benefits of peanuts

roasted peanuts with salt in brown bowl

After this study was finished, researchers concluded that the polyphenols found in peanuts and peanut butter (and not found in the control butter) were a major factor in the improved memory function and lowered anxiety levels experienced by the participants.

Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in foods like peanuts, dark chocolate, apples, olive oil, and red wine, and they have been known to help fight diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease.

And even though this new study only focused on young adults under the age of 33, these research findings of the cognitive benefits of polyphenols in peanuts and peanut butter are promising for all age groups and definitely warrant more future research.

Getting more peanuts in your diet

peanut butter toast

If you're a fan of snacking on a handful of peanuts during the day, then you've got it easy. But for those who may get a little tired of plain peanuts but want the health benefits, you might need to get a little more creative.

Try a sweet treat like this peanut butter toast with strawberries and chocolate chips, or make your favorite type of oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter on top. You can even use peanuts for a savory dish like these Asian-inspired sesame noodles with chicken.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha