#207 Almonds vs. Peanuts: Which Should You Eat?

Almonds vs. Peanuts: Which Should You Eat?

Everyone knows almonds are healthier than peanuts, right?  In this article, we are going to look at the science to settle the almonds vs. peanuts debate.  The results may surprise you.

1. Almonds vs. Peanuts for Weight Loss?

Almonds are a great nut for people wishing to lose weight.  While you would expect that all of the calories and fat in almonds would cause weight gain, the opposite is actually true.  Indeed, a recent study showed that people eating almonds lost 65% more weight than those not eating almonds.

When it comes to weight loss, peanuts have a similar effect.  In a study of 14,082 people, even though peanut eaters ate significantly more calories, they actually weighed less than those not eating peanuts.  This finding argues that peanuts increase metabolism.

For weight loss, all nuts, including peanuts, help to fill you up and may increase metabolism. Thus, as long as you don’t overdo it, nuts and peanuts should help you to maintain a healthy weight.

Winner: Tie

2. Almonds vs. Peanuts for Diabetes, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol

For preventing the common ailments of life, like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, both nuts and peanuts perform magnificently.  Indeed, countless studies have shown that all nuts and peanuts help to treat and prevent these conditions.

How much benefit can you anticipate by eating nuts or peanuts each day?  According to one study, blood pressure is reduced by 6 mmHg and LDL (bad cholesterol) by 10% just by eating 30 g of them.  Thirty grams works out to be one or two handfuls depending on the size of the nut and the palm of your hand.  For people with diabetes, nuts and peanuts shouldn’t raise your glucose at all as they are slowly digested and contain no sugar.

Winner: Tie

3. Almonds vs. Peanuts to Prevent Dementia?

When it comes to optimizing brain function, there are strong data that almonds are extremely helpful.  For example, in a study of 522 people, a daily dose of almonds improved brain function by up to 60%.

Exactly how almonds help so much with brain function isn’t completely clear.  This benefit may come from the role of almonds in weight loss, diabetes prevention, blood pressure lowering, and cholesterol lowering.  Alternatively, it may be due to the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants packed in the nut.  In animal studies, almonds boost acetylcholine in the brain which turbo charges memory function.

Peanuts are a unique brain food in that they are packed with niacin.  While niacin supplements have never been shown to be helpful, the natural niacin packed in peanuts have been associated with a much lower risk of dementia.  For example, in a study of 6,158 people living in Chicago, those getting the most niacin from natural food sources were 70% less likely to develop dementia.  Moreover, when it comes to weight loss, diabetes prevention, blood pressure lowering, cholesterol lowering, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, peanuts are every bit as strong as almonds.

Winner: Tie

4. Almonds vs. Peanuts to Prevent Heart Disease

All nuts prevent heart disease.  In a large study of 118,962 Americans, researchers found that the more often you eat nuts, the lower your chance of dying from a heart attack.  Indeed, this study showed that those eating nuts were 24% less likely to die from a heart attack.

When it comes to preventing heart disease, peanuts perform every bit as well as almonds and other nuts.  Indeed, from this same study, researchers could find no difference in the protective effects of peanuts compared to other nuts, including almonds.

Winner: Tie

5. Almonds vs. Peanuts to Prevent Cancer

For cancer prevention, you want a food that can prevent DNA damage, promote DNA repair, reduce tumor growth, prevent spreading, and enhance immune system function. Fortunately, both almonds and peanuts may help in all of these cancer prevention functions.

In the study referred to above, researchers compared the cancer prevention effects of nuts and peanuts.  When it comes to your risk of dying from cancer, nuts, including almonds, decreased your risk by 17%.  While peanuts didn’t perform quite as well, they still lowered your risk of dying from cancer by 6%.

In a different study of 48,380 people, nuts, including almonds, decreased the risk of cancer by 18%.  In contrast, peanuts only decreased the cancer risk by 7%.

Winner: Almonds

6. Almonds vs. Peanuts for Energy Production

Everyone wants more energy through the day.  To get that energy boost, should you eat almonds or peanuts?

When it comes to energy production, almonds have a number of advantages.  For example, almonds are sky high in manganese, copper, riboflavin, and magnesium.

The energy generating factory of each cell in your body is the mitochondria.  As the mitochondria make energy for your body to use, it spins off free radicals as a byproduct.  These free radicals limit how much energy the mitochrondia can generate.  Fortunately, the manganese and copper in almonds are essential components to an enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which gets rid of these free radicals so that your mitochondria can continue to function at maximum production.

In addition to manganese and copper, almonds are also packed with riboflavin and magnesium.  Both riboflavin and magnesium are critical components to the mitochronia’s ability to create new energy.  If either are lacking, energy production is slowed to a crawl.

While peanuts also have these same nutrients, the amount in peanuts is much lower than that of almonds.  Thus, when it comes to getting more energy during the day, almonds come out on top.

Winner: Almonds

7. Almonds vs. Peanuts for Resveratrol

Not long ago, resveratrol was felt to be the “fountain of youth.”  Resveratrol is a flavonoid compound found in red grapes that has been associated with longevity, less heart disease, less cancer, and improved cognitive function in medical studies.

Indeed, some researchers believe that the resveratrol in red wine is the secret behind the French Paradox.  The French Paradox is the term given to why the French can eat “unhealthy” food but yet have extremely low rates of heart disease and remarkable longevity.

In addition to red grapes, peanuts and dark chocolate are two other great ways to get resveratrol.  Indeed, one ounce of peanut butter (28 g) provides almost as much resveratrol as one ounce of red wine (30 mL).  In contrast, almonds have no meaningful amount of resveratrol.

Winner: Peanuts

8. Almonds vs. Peanuts for Cost

When it comes to cost, you can’t get much cheaper than the peanut.  Regardless of where I have shopped over the years, peanuts have always been much cheaper than almonds.  For people on a budget, peanuts are a great way to get all the nutritional benefits of nuts at a much lower price point.

Winner: Peanuts

What is the best way to eat almonds and peanuts?

When choosing almonds or peanuts to eat, there are a few general rules for optimal health.  Here is what you need to know:

1. Only buy fresh almonds and peanuts.  Because of the high fat content in almonds and peanuts, they can quickly turn rancid.  Almonds stay fresh longer if you keep them in their shell.  Also, dry roasting or keeping them refrigerated or frozen also keeps them fresh longer.

2. Avoid almonds or peanuts which have any added oils or sugar.  Be careful not to select the types which have too much added salt.

3. For peanuts, eating the dry roasted varieties may be the best.  This is because peanuts could possibly harbor small amounts of aflatoxin.  Aflatoxin is a poison that comes from mold.  Dry roasted peanuts are much less likely to go moldy.

Take Home Message

The key take away from this article is that both almonds and peanuts help to prevent most chronic medical problems.  Based on my almonds vs. peanuts analysis, I am calling this one a tie.  Indeed, even though most people consider almonds “healthier,” when you look at the scientific studies, I could find no difference.

Personally, I eat almonds and peanuts every day.  I like the taste of both.

Do you prefer almonds or peanuts?  Please leave your thoughts, questions, and comments below.  I’ll do my best to answer every question within 24 hours.

If you liked this article, please tell a friend and be sure to sign up for my free weekly newsletter and podcast!

Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.

  1. Is it worth paying extra for nuts that are ‘activated’ (soaked and dried again)?

    • Hi Louise,

      Great question. There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about “anti-nutrients.” People who regularly eat nuts consistently enjoy better health and a longer lifespan according to scientific studies. There are no clear scientific data that “activating nuts” has any health benefit.

      Hope this helps!


  2. Thanks for explaining the benefits of nuts. What about walnuts? I thought they’re better because of the omega 3 oil? I do prefer peanuts but eat walnuts as a consequence.