Food for Thought

— Written By Sherrie Peeler and last updated by Kerri Rayburn
en Español

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As a former student of Jackson County Public Schools, I remember the best homemade soup and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch on Fridays if I am not mistaken. What happened to the peanut butter in schools? Allergies, today as many as 8% of the students in Jackson County live with some type food allergy. The most common food allergens include:  peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy products, soy, wheat, and eggs.

Currently, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is leading the charge against peanut allergies, as evidenced by its recent $500,000 grant from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) for researching new immunotherapies. They also hope to have an allergen free peanut butter on the market.

North Carolina harvests approximately to 320 million pounds of peanuts with a value of $67,840,000 from 100,000 acres in nine eastern counties with deep, fine, sandy loam soils with good drainage.

DkNVe9pC1LiCHYFCeogGW3il1ESZfc8i-NzKDe6V36ZFbW29HZwDbxkedt4ao0P5HolJutg=s128Peanuts and peanut butter represent over 2/3 of the nut consumption in the US. Peanuts cost less per ounce than any other nut or protein source.

Peanuts are convenient as they can be found almost anywhere food is sold. Peanuts are a nutrient dense source of plant-based protein.

Vanderbilt University has studied over 200,000 people from the southeastern United States and Shanghai, China and have found they peanut eaters lived longer and significantly reduced heart disease. Another study from Australia compared peanuts as a snack to potato chips and noted that peanuts decreased hunger and overeating at other times of the day.

Peanuts are rich in anti-oxidants like phytosterols, polyphenols and other antioxidants which may be why they help us to live longer and better. Not only a source of protein, peanuts are also a source pf unsaturated fatty acids, and fiber. All of these compounds help to reduce the burden of the oxidative stress on the body, which is known to accelerate the aging process.