FoodFacts.com knows that there’s always been one food that kids crave that parents have always felt good about. As long as children don’t suffer from peanut allergies, peanut butter is actually a pretty healthy choice. And today, with organic and natural choices, we have even healthier options that don’t include any controversial ingredients. And let’s face it, even as adults there is something very comforting about a peanut butter sandwich because the taste can bring us back to our childhood. Today we learned that young girls who eat peanut butter may be doing something positive for their well being later on in life.
By eating more peanut butter during their high school years, girls could be improving their breast health in adulthood, according to a US study published recently in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.
Dr. Graham Colditz, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues found that girls aged 9 to 15 who ate peanut butter and nuts twice a week were 39% less likely to develop benign breast disease by the age of 30 than girls who did not.
Benign breast disease includes lumps or tender spots that turn out to be fibrous tissue and/or cysts, as well as other conditions like hyperplasia, an overgrowth of the cells that line the ducts in the glandular breast tissue.
Although benign breast disease is not cancerous, it can raise the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
Dr. Colditz, associate director for cancer prevention and control at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, says:
“These findings suggest that peanut butter could help reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.”
For their study, he and his colleagues looked at health data on over 9,000 American schoolgirls recruited to The Growing Up Today Study between 1996 and 2001. This included detailed information about food consumption as captured in food frequency questionnaires that the girls filled in on enrollment.
The data also included reports from the girls between 2005 and 2010, when they were 18 to 30 years old, that indicated whether they had ever been diagnosed with biopsy-confirmed benign breast disease.
When they compared the two sets of data, the researchers found that participants who had eaten peanut butter or nuts twice a week were 39% less likely than peers who never ate those foods to receive a diagnosis for benign breast disease.
The data suggest pulse foods – soy and other beans and lentils – and corn may also be linked to reduced risk of benign breast disease, but because they did not feature as much in the diets of these girls, the evidence was not so strong.
The researchers also note that:
“Girls with a family history of breast cancer had significantly lower risk if they consumed these foods or vegetable fat.”
And they concluded that “consumption of vegetable protein, fat, peanut butter, or nuts by older girls may help reduce their risk of BBD [benign breast disease] as young women.”
Dr. Colditz says girls would do well to eat more peanut butter and nuts and consume less junk foods and sugary drinks, especially in view of the rise in obesity.
FoodFacts.com is excited about this great news for women. Including peanut butter in your diet when you’re young may help you prevent the breast disease that puts you at a higher risk for breast cancer. It’s easy to do. Kids love it. And the health effects may prove invaluable for adult women!