The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strong defender
- An acid fights free radicals produced by the body
more benefits from nuts
1 Gallstone disease: Peanuts fight gallstone disease, says a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School studied the link between nut-consumption and chances of removal of gallstones in 80,718 people. Those consuming five ounces (140 grams) of nuts a week had a 25 per cent lower risk of gallstone disease when compared to those who ate little peanuts.

2 Obesity: A report in the International Journal of Obesity suggests peanuts counter obesity. Purdue University researchers studied 15 people in a three-phase dietary interventional study and found that eating peanuts cut calorie assimilation in the individuals. Peanuts kill appetite, and thus decreases the intake of foods and calories.

3 Allergy: Although some people are allergic to peanuts, a recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology concludes that eating small amounts of peanuts can help combat allergy.

Peanuts, derided as an unhealthy fatty food, are loaded with beneficial chemicals identical to those found in fruits like strawberry. They are also rich in a wide variety of helpful anti-oxidants ' the naturally occurring substances that protect the body from harmful substances known as free radicals, suggests a study by the University of Florida researchers.

Free radicals have been linked to heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and eye disorders. The growing reputation of antioxidants has led an increasing number of people to include more fruits in their diets. Strawberry, orange, apple and carrot are believed to be the source of antioxidants. However, peanuts have been ignored for their high-calorie content.

'Peanuts rival fruits as a source of health-promoting antioxidants,' writes Steve Talcott, the lead researcher, in Food Chemistry. 'The nuts contain a high level of one particular substance called p-coumaric acid. The compound belongs to the family of chemicals called polyphenols which have strong anti-oxidant properties.'

The researchers also found that roasting peanuts can increase the level of p-coumaric acid in them, thereby increasing their overall antioxidant content to 22 per cent.

The University of Florida team is now looking at the possibility of producing peanuts that will contain high levels of the anti-oxidant chemicals.

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