Dr. Samara Sterling, Ph.D. is the Research Director at The Peanut Institute, a non-profit organization supporting nutrition research and developing educational programs to encourage healthful lifestyles that include the peanut superfood and peanut products. Are peanuts a superfood? Yes, peanuts are a superfood rich in nutrients and are the highest in arginine, a specific amino acid that helps to produce a compound that dilatates our blood vessels to help prevent high blood pressure (hyper tension) and heart disease.
What is the Best Peanut Superfood? Raw, Roasted, or Boiled?
The best peanut superfood depends on the disease prevention you want to achieve. Are you looking to reduce risk of cancer, reduce inflammation, fight heart disease, or other diseases. Boiled peanuts have the highest level of resveratrol, an antioxidant against cancer and heart disease. But there are also phytochemicals and antioxidants that are the highest when you roast them. So it is a trade-off, but you are still getting the benefits either way.
Dr. Sterling doesn’t recommend eating raw peanuts, since since the nutrients in peanuts are best absorbed when they are heated. Additionally, cooking peanuts reduces the risk of contamination. You can also make boiled peanuts at home with this link of the Peanut Institute. https://peanut-institute.com/how-to-make-boiled-peanuts-a-superfood-for-hearts-minds/
Interested in learning more about peanuts, the benefits of a plant based diet, all natural peanut butter and all about peanuts? Visit The Peanut Institute website or contact The Peanut Institute https://peanut-institute.com/contact/
And how here’s Dr. Samara Sterling.
Full transcript Below
Fighting Heart Disease by Eating Peanuts – Learn How Peanut Superfoods Produce the Amino Acid, Arginine, and the Antioxidant, Resveratrol to Prevent Heart Blockages.
The Peanut Institute Helps you Understand the Peanut Superfood Benefits of Boiled versus Roasted Peanuts
Are Superfood Peanuts Good for Your Health?
10 Superfood Peanut Recipes from The Peanut Institute
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Podcast with Dr. Samara Sterling. What is the Best Peanut Superfood: Raw, Roasted, or Boiled?
peanuts, food, people, nutrition, eat, understand, life, nuts, institute, include, Jamaica, emotional connection, shift, New York, question, study, grow, fruits, metabolic syndrome.
Samara Sterling, Mike Malatesta
Mike Malatesta Samara Sterling welcome to the podcast.
Samara Sterling 03:38
Thank you for having me, Mike. Good to be here.
Mike Malatesta 03:41
Yeah, as everyone heard in the introduction, we kind of in for a treat today because Dr. Sterling is a nutritionist, and she’s also the research director at the Peanut Institute as you heard, And when I first heard about this opportunity to talk with her I was I, first of all, I’d never heard of the peanut Institute, so I was like, oh, what’s the peanut Institute right and there’s probably a lot of you out there saying the same thing right now. Well, not only are we going to find that out but we’re also going to find out about her journey which is, from what I’ve read at least is, is rather unique and extensive and so I’m really looking forward to digging in with it, Dr. Sterling. I start every podcast with the same question that is, how did it happen for you.
Samara Sterling 04:29
How did it happen and that’s I think that’s a great question and it’s a loaded question at the same time. For me, when I think about how did it happen. I’m also thinking about the fact that it’s still happening. Yeah. There’s so there’s so much more to go, but I can say that for me as a nutrition scientist my love for nutrition at least as a young child, and often our parents told a story about when I was maybe three or four years old, and there was a cooking show that came on TV. As I grew up in Jamaica, and the cooking show was called Creative Cooking. And I used to watch that show intently through you imagine a three, four year old just watching a cooking show, equivalent to Rachael Ray, you know, after, after each episode My parents say that I regret my crops, and I create with my entire scene, cameraman 321 Go. You know, all the, all, all the bells and whistles that you can think of is what I did, and it may seem really small, but I think that that was really my start that kind of showed how I was built, how I was made up to really want to know more about the functionality. What can food actually do even at that young age, I didn’t understand all the intricacies, but that interest was there in what food can actually do and showing that to people. So fast forward now to many, many years after that when I moved to New York, I did my undergrad in New York, a little bit for graduate work. But I fell in love also with science. Because for me science was a way to understand how our bodies functions and what really made us up as tick so to speak, you know, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, these are the things that I was drawn to, but I felt like I had this dilemma because I had this artistic side of the creative side, from creative thinking I had this creative side, that I wanted to nurture, but then I also have this love for silence. And when I found this field of nutrition science that was like a perfect merging for me because I can take the scientific evidence, evidence of how food actually affects our bodies, and then use the creativity to go along with that to talk about how, how we actually communicate that to the general public, how we actually communicate to the, to folks who have no idea about science and make that interesting and something that folks really kind of want to know about because at the end of the day, we all eat right so it’s something that relates to us all, and I found that this field of nutrition is one that continues to be relatable to everyone
Mike Malatesta 07:32
and confusing to, right, because people are sort of bombarded with so many different messages. And it’s hard to know it’s kind of hard to understand sometimes, at least I think how food and your body are actually connected.
Samara Sterling 07:49
Yeah, that’s a really fine and that’s actually one of my that was one of my motivating factors to pursue graduate degrees, because I said to myself, there’s so much nutrition information out there like he just said, how do I know which was true, but I said if I can understand the physiology. Then, if I can understand conceptually what’s going on, then I have just empowered myself and my community to understand, okay, what information should I take and what should I not take. If I hear something that doesn’t make physiological sense then I can say, okay, and not only works, you know, add context if I hear something, and I can really get to the physiology behind it. That sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Ultimately, honestly when I, as a scientist and educator, educate people I want to empower others as well, to not just take what I’m saying but to be able to understand the why behind the what as well.
Mike Malatesta 08:55
So to do their own investigation. Not just take your word for it as a starting point or whatever. Yeah,
Samara Sterling 09:04
exactly. I can give them the tools to start with some really good tools, but I think for anyone. When you feel empowered to understand yourself and to be able to make your own decision. That is something that is so key in our human experience, I think.
Mike Malatesta 09:25
So did your creative cooking production include the cooking part too or do you just the sit you’re just sort of the big picture on the production.
Samara Sterling 09:37
So it actually also included the cooking. Okay. The interesting thing is that nutrition science doesn’t always include cooking right, I just happen to be one who also enjoys the creative process as well so yeah it also included that when I was in college, I also started a YouTube channel, you know, we do a lot of the videos and things like that, and I still do that from time to time sometimes. So yeah, even from a young age,
Mike Malatesta 10:05
it included as well. And what was it that brought you and your family from Jamaica to New York.
Samara Sterling 10:15
So, from Jamaica to New York. It’s a loaded story and I’m wondering how much to get into that but basically what happened was that my experience in trauma where there was a murder of a close family friend, And as children, it’s your mental health. Words are compromised and that which and because we became very fearful of, you know what was going to happen and these were very close family friends and so my parents thought, you know, for the betterment of ourselves and to be able to have their children, they really kind of made a sacrifice for their children to be able to, you know function optimally and not be fearful at every turn and so that kind of probably made the transition more. Luckily, we had some family that as well, so it was very much welcoming and of course we did miss our home we did miss our culture but same time, it was, it was also great part of a new experience and I think that the experience that I’ve had, moving to New York and then being able to go to different schools across the state is has been one that’s been invaluable. Even though the story didn’t necessarily start out perfect one, it kind of transformed to one that’s that that’s really a good story.
Mike Malatesta 11:41
And how old were you when you came to New York.
Samara Sterling 11:46
I was 11. Right at that age where you know you’re here at You’re not too young to forget. Yeah, but then it’s like you’re looking forward to more to life at that age you know so right on the cusp of teenagers.
Mike Malatesta 12:03
Can you remember what you felt like when you got to New York because it’s quite a, I mean not only you’re leaving your home but it’s quite a different place than in Jamaica as well.
Samara Sterling 12:14
Yeah, very different. So, initially when I came there was definitely a culture shock, definitely very different definitely very much homesick, and it took me a long time to really get accustomed to the nuances of the differences that were there. But I think I think over time I adjusted quite well. And I understood that it was really for the best, you know, but yeah initially it was tough because you know as we talk about nutrition, here’s one day in Jamaica. It’s a tropical country, right. So, you have so many different varieties of fruits and vegetables and things that grow from the ground. Yeah, plethora of exotic fruits and vegetables, and you know we’re accustomed to just having access to that to those foods, and one of the hardest things of transitioning to a different culture is being able to now say okay, I don’t have those foods anymore. You know I don’t have all of those foods anymore the things that make me feel like home. And now being able to adjust and adapt to what you do have available. But overall, over time, it’s been a really good experience because then you know we also got exposed to foods that we didn’t have in Jamaica. So that’s been, that that was good as
Mike Malatesta 13:45
well. Okay, yeah, I can just imagine having had the experience of being able to sort of get through Oregon organically right whenever you wanted it or whatever and then versus having to go to a store to get everything I guess when you get to New York, you have to. That’s pretty much the way it is.
Samara Sterling 14:03
Right, yeah. I go into the grocery store and I’m seeing some of our exotic tropical fruits that have now become super foods that, okay, so things like jackfruit and guava, and start fruit and you know all these all these exotic fruits that were just like, oh yeah, this is our you know our, you know, but now they they’ve entered the world stage, and everyone is looking to have those fruits too so I think that’s a good thing and that also means that I get more access to it even now.
Mike Malatesta 14:38
Yeah. And when you. That’s kind of neat. I think about and this is not a germane example at all but it’s the only one that comes to mind and that is when you’re on different places in the US and there’s certain local beers that are, you know, not felt to be, like, really, that exceptional, but when you can’t get that in another part of the country people want it right so it’s held in a much higher esteem in another part of the country than it is where you can get it, you know, all day long. So, anyway, probably not the same as route but yeah.
Samara Sterling 15:14
No, that’s true. It’s the same thing that always be about New Yorkers because I also consider myself a New Yorker having lived there for so long. And, you know the sights and sounds and the culture of New York. You don’t you don’t really appreciate it as much when there and then when you’re leading up and you’re like, oh, square, oh the corner stores the bodega, New York pizza, those things kind of come to your mind when you don’t have access to it anymore so same thing.
Mike Malatesta 15:44
Speaking of if you don’t mind me taking a tangent here speaking of you being a New Yorker. What do you think about what’s, what do you think about the future of New York? There’s a lot of. No, no discussion about how the virus has impacted New York, maybe, maybe temporarily maybe forever. A lot of people have moved out everybody’s working from home that kind of thing which as a. You’re a second native New Yorker, I guess. But, but it’s your you it’s your home, right. How do you feel about how do you feel about the future?
Samara Sterling 16:23
Think that New York will always have some attraction to it, because there’s so much, New York. It’s the birthplace of if you’re into fashion that’s the birthplace. If you’re into the arts that you know you have Broadway and you have all these off Broadway shows that that’s a home for that music in New York. So I think that those things will stay. I do think that over time. What we’re finding especially in my realm is that people are asking questions about food security, where’s my food actually come from because one of the things that pandemic did was kind of highlighted okay, if I go into the supermarket, and the shelves are empty of the food that I want. Where do I actually go what do I actually do. And so folks that are thinking about do I know where my food comes from, can I actually grow this Can I actually see this on a large scale in a farm somewhere. And so we are going to see that shift, I believe, even if both don’t move out of New York necessarily don’t want immerse themselves in agriculture, and understanding the ins and outs of that, which is one of the reasons why we take peanuts for example for me moving to Georgia was one of the first times that I actually saw us growing in a field, and I had a really good friend of peanut farmers, show me. You know all the ins and outs of that, and my mind was gone. But for native rural Georgians, this is, this is life, right, but for me it was new, and it was exciting, and it was, it was refreshing to actually see that. And I think that for people in the cities New York as well. There’s gonna be a renewed interest in understanding the ins and outs of those foods that we’ve come to love and go on our supermarket shelves,
Mike Malatesta 18:24
yet so it’s probably, and you’re still, you know, very young in your career, but it’s probably still, there’s probably still been a dramatic shift from when you started to get interested in this and how people thought about food until you know now and 2021 how people are thinking about food.
Samara Sterling 18:42
Yeah, I think so. There’s definitely a shift and even when we look at different generations right there are, there are priorities there for each generation that we see. We know that as people become old as we get older, when we’re young, we think we’re invincible, so we don’t necessarily think about things like chronic diseases, we don’t think about. And we don’t, we haven’t traditionally thought much about how food, how what we eat affects our health. And as we get older, we start to really kind of think of that and especially now with the emergence of concepts like food as medicine and blending nutrition in a clinical setting. People are starting to think of that even more so now, when we think about things like you know having to be on various medications, you’re taking 12-13 pills a day. Some people really feel like I would like to have a better quality of life. How can I actually use food to my advantage? And I think that we’re starting to see that shift, it’s one of the reasons that I do the work that I do here at the peanut Institute, and I think that folks are really going to look more deeply into this.
Mike Malatesta 19:58
I know that’s been a personal evolution for me. For a long time I you know I kind of I don’t think I had terrible habits, but I didn’t have great ones either. I didn’t understand what you said at the beginning, you know, between what you put into your body and how your body reacts and so I just, you know, I did what I was taught, basically you’re taught how to eat by your parents or your friends, you know who you’re around. But over the last several years I’ve shifted, like you say a lot of people have shifted to really trying to understand how not to get sick from what I eat and understanding better understanding the connection between the two things, what’s going to keep you healthy and off of medication versus what’s going to be like the traditional path is like, Oh, well, something’s wrong with you. Well, you know, we’ll give you something for that and that turns into 123 12, you know pills a day. But it’s hard right it’s hard to get people to nap, it’s not hard to get people to make the connection I don’t think Dr. Sterling it’s hard to get them to really appreciate that they can do something proactive proactively about it I’d say Would you agree with that.
Samara Sterling 21:25
I think so I think there’s the concept of self-efficacy, as well as here’s the thing that we also know when it comes on to behavioral change. I do a lot of research projects in communities; I’m actually doing one right now. And one of the things that we know about behavioral change is that there has to be an emotional connection, it cannot just be an intellectual assent so I may know, If I if I’m an internal medicine physician, and I know that smoking is that I’m still smoking. You have to look at that and you say, what, where’s the disconnect there. So for me as a nutrition scientist and a health educator when I go into communities, we talk about the why. Why is it that you want to be healthier, and what you’ll hear folks say often is I want to be around for my children, I want to be around for my grandchildren. I see that when I feed certain foods to my child. My child is now in the obese category and also has high cholesterol and is pretty diabetic and I don’t want that for my child. And I think that this is really where the rubber meets the road, really where in the clinical setting, we have to learn to hit that heart, the heart message a little bit more, because if people know, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do they have to have a reason to action.
Mike Malatesta 22:58
And so I believe you, that’s, that’s the emotional connection is probably is very important. But I wonder why. Because if you understand something intellectually isn’t, you know it’s interesting that that’s not enough to, to, you know, generate an emotional reaction it’s like hey, I want to be healthier or more I want my children to be healthier. I want my family to be healthier but why do you think, and I just came into my mind saw I asked, Why do you think that there are, you know, so many different cultures that, you know, really have a philosophy around food that’s more about tasting good and or eating a lot or whatever, then it is about, you know, being nutritious or, or healthy, it’s like I don’t know where that all came from but you’ve probably studied that, and you probably know, I don’t
Samara Sterling 23:58
know where I think I think it’s multifactorial, but a lot of components to that, I’ll give you an example I had a friend who was hint. She’s a very good friend of mine when I was in New York and I remember one time we were talking about food, and she said that in her family when she grew up. They didn’t have a lot of fun, but they may. Squeeze the budget for things like toys. They may squeeze the budget for other things but the one thing they will not squeeze the budget for is food. And it’s because they believe it’s a cent or within their culture and their upbringing. They read our bodies or it’s the only body you’ve got. Yeah, and it’s something that you instill in the children as they’re growing up. This is the only time you can buy another toy. You can’t buy their body, so you got to take care of it as you can and that means giving it good quality food. I say it’s multifactorial why different cultured foods in different ways. You know for us in the westernized world kind of so much access to different foods that over time, when you have so much access you’re always craving, what’s the next new thing.
Mike Malatesta 25:30
Samara Sterling 25:32
How can I make this bigger How can I make this better? And what’s interesting is that we’re now cycling back through, where now we’re like, how can we make this simpler. Yeah, let’s go back to the basics, you know, basics of food. So I think definitely multifactorial, and it has a lot to do with how we think of ourselves and how we recognize our place in the universe that we’re in, and the fact that, yeah, we only have one life to live one body to take care of, so we’ll do our best to give it our best shot so to speak.
Mike Malatesta 26:08
That’s interesting what you said about the supersize it’s like if, if, if more is good or if, if a lot is good more is better. Right. And, and then, and then, not just the family but the whole the advertising and everything builds a community around that like how I can get more for less money. Right, that’s always good right more money, more for less money, always good, right, that’s the connection to try to try to make interesting. So when
Samara Sterling 26:36
there aren’t many foods that you can get more for less. Right I mean Right,
Mike Malatesta 26:41
Samara Sterling 26:42
And when I say many foods, I’m talking about many quality foods, you know, of course. And the thing is that the foods that you can get as good quality for less, sometimes we don’t ring them in high esteem as we should. So you think about, for example, kidney beans. Those are like $1 pack. Think of them as really the foods that we should be eating for better health, right.
Mike Malatesta 27:17
So when was it that you sort of decided for sure that this was the direction that you wanted to go like when you were in high school was it then or was it when you got to college or was it even, you know in your, in your graduate work or when was it?
Samara Sterling 27:35
So it was after I finished undergrad, I around that time my father was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. When I was sort of deciding what I wanted to do for grad school grad school wasn’t necessarily an option, it was just more like, what do you want to study. But I remember that my dad. Gods say, and I wanted to know how I take care of my How do I help, I felt helpless at that time I saw him taking different medications, it was like how do I actually help? And that was actually when I started understanding the connection between what we eat, and our body function and that’s when I said, hey, I think I want to study this a little bit more. Why don’t I go to grad school for this? But fast forward a couple years. My mom also suffered two heart attacks, and for me that was also. It was the realization that, what I did in life could not just benefit me if I wanted to do something that would impact the people around me. Yes, of course it needs to be something that I love as well and that I connect with. But to know that the work that I do has affected my family as well as the community around me. That to me is, is so much fulfillment that amount of money came by that.
Mike Malatesta 29:06
I love that. When you were making that, you know, taking care of her helping to take care of your dad were you were you connecting like food or his history of with food with the, with the kidney disease, or was it, or were you not quite there yet, I’m just thinking, trying to get, like, I don’t know into your head a little bit.
Samara Sterling 29:31
Yeah, it was a process of understanding. Because my dad had always been hypertensive so I remember that whenever my mom would cook rice. There will be no salt in the rice and we grew up not eating salt in rice, because that was hypertensive really like the only connection that I had. It took some time of searching, and I started like many other people with Dr. Google, you know doctor who was my friend. And it was through searching there that it was like this aha moment. Oh, because I knew that we were eating a diet that was heavy on me, you know, all these different offer foods processed foods, etc. So I knew that we were doing that and when I, when I did the Google search and I started to see all the factors that contribute to kidney disease. That’s when I started taking a closer look at the nutrition side of things,
Mike Malatesta 30:41
okay. So that was your emotional connection.
Samara Sterling 30:45
Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah, emotional connection for sure, I mean it’s my dad,
Mike Malatesta 30:49
Samara Sterling 30:50
My parents, so I wanted to a part. So, you know,
Mike Malatesta 30:56
And are they doing well, your parents are?
Samara Sterling 30:59
Yeah, so you know the interesting thing is that my dad well my dad is older now. But, obviously, but, um, but grateful because we were actually able to delay analysis for my dad, for about seven to eight years.
Mike Malatesta 31:19
How did you do that,
Samara Sterling 31:20
we implemented in his lifestyle including nutrition there after her second heart attack. She was told that she needed to have triple bypass surgery because her arteries, we’re about 80 to 90% blocked, we completely shifted everything changed everything around. And she’s been on this new lifestyle journey she actually denied the triple bypass. I’m not saying that anybody should do that at home, I just want to make that clear. But she decided to go the route of Preventative Medicine and changing her entire lifestyle what she did. She saw amazing benefits she lost a ton of weight, and the last time she went back to her cardiologist he was actually amazed because he saw that her arteries work, he did not see that 80 to 90% blockage anymore. It was severely, so a lot of that profits was severely reversed, or removed, and we know this and as I’m saying this, we know that this is possible because there was a scientist in the 1990s that actually showed this first, his name was Dean Ornish and he actually took patients who were scheduled for bypass surgery, and he gave them a whole foods plant based diet, within one to five years. It was clear, you saw that reversal of the arterial blockages continuing to happen and that’s what happened to my mother, so for me I know that I’m on the right path, because I’m able to impact stability to those around me.
Mike Malatesta 32:59
And can I ask how open your mother was to the changes, because I’m wondering if, if the threat of the triple bypass was what, you know, gave her the emotional connection that you had mentioned a few times, or was it, because a lot of people even with that even with faced with that they Well, I’ll just do this surgery and then that’ll fix it for now and then, you know, there’s, there’s even that is not enough of a trigger for a lot of people so how is it with you, with your mom.
Samara Sterling 33:31
Yeah, so, so there are some people, everyone is on their different stages in terms of readiness to change. Yeah. As interventionists, we do have to kind of take a look at what if someone is in that stage. And so my mom yes that emotional connection for her was, I don’t want another heart attack, and I also don’t want to be medications the rest of my life, so for her that was her motivation for someone else it may be a little bit different for someone else they may think to themselves, well I’m gonna die anyway. Might as well. Yeah, die happy for them dying happy is, you know, just, just kind of taking life as it comes. So she was in that stage of change, she was ready to really kind of make the shifts that she needed to make.
Mike Malatesta 34:26
And that also solidified your thinking on, you know how you cannot just what you want to do but how you can impact, you know a lot of people. How did that end up leading you to the Peanut Institute? What was the
Samara Sterling 34:42
when I was doing my program, so my area. This is where I saw a lot of powerful research and I wanted to dive into that some more. When I went to do my PhD at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. We didn’t really have many mentors who were looking at plant based nutrition. And so for me I needed to kind of carve that path, myself, and find a way to study fat based nutrition, and so I had a mentor who was doing a community based project in rural Alabama, and she was looking at how diet can help to reduce obesity related cancellous out of that I decided that I wanted to look at a specific plant based food I wanted to look at nut consumption, and how that particularly affected things. She had never really had a grad student or somebody in her lab, look at that before so we were excited about that potential. And my research shows that the more people ate nuts, the more and the more, the more they ate nuts, the better their outcomes were at the end of that year intervention period. And I will say that the primary not that they consumed in that intervention was peanuts because this was a rural community. So I reported on that had a few studies and few papers that were written on that. And when I saw that peanut Institute was looking for someone like myself, specifically with a background in peanuts. Okay, background, you don’t find that too often, so for me this was like this is a perfect fit because I’m passionate about peanuts and I’m passionate about, you know, using whole foods plant based whole foods can help with the concept of food as medicine. And for me, just looking for the peanut Institute looking for someone like me was just a perfect fit.
Mike Malatesta 36:46
And I want to go back to you when you first talked about going to the Peanut Farm and this is going to be an anger and question so I’m going to, so excuse me upfront for it, but I’ve never seen peanuts being grown and I’ve actually never googled it either, so what, what does, what does a Peanut Farm look like.
Samara Sterling 37:07
Oh, so the one that I went to, you know we have some extraordinary growers here in Georgia because Georgia produces over 50% of the peanut crop so most of the acreage that you’ll see huge, and I can’t tell you the exact number but it’s huge. So you’ll see, you’ll see that planting peanuts using heavy equipment and very sophisticated equipment. I thought initially that, you know, I would see it just the way I saw in comic books where people are just like putting. But no, it’s actually very sophisticated tractors that are doing the work on so peanuts are planted around May or so and then they’re harvested after 140 days which falls around September, October, there’s a, there’s machinery, I think it’s called a combine the machinery that turns it grows inside the ground so as opposed to tree nuts which grow on trees, peanuts are grown underground, and that combined turns the peanuts over there dried for a few days, and then the whole process starts by which we get it in the supermarket.
Mike Malatesta 38:25
Okay, thank you for that I probably a dumb question, but I, I was thinking about it, and I was sick, I’m not really sure. So one of the things that I think I’d like to understand better is. Some people like categorize peanuts is being different than nuts like they’re like goons or something I can’t remember exactly but I think that’s it. And I guess that was a distinct so when I started a few years ago I kind of went like on a paleo-ish. And I know that was one of those like to eat certain kinds of nuts, not eat certain kinds of nuts and I’m just this person it’s like okay I’ll follow you know; I didn’t investigate it really any further, but I know it’s a thing. So, someone who’s an expert on it, what, what is, what’s the, what’s the difference I guess between a peanut or almond or whatever from a, from a chemical standpoint or what could what’s the difference in what’s, why does it matter.
Samara Sterling 39:36
So, that’s a good question. We get that question all the time. But when it comes down to peanuts. Peanuts are classified as you mentioned, I think, peanuts are classified botanically as a legume in the class of beans red beans, lentils, things like that. Okay. It’s classified botanically that way, which is why it goes on your ground. But nutritionally also classified as a nut. So, what you have in a peanut is really a hybrid, in many ways. And so what that does to ask why it matters, because what it does on some level, is that you get some of the same benefits you get the best of both worlds, so to speak. So let’s take protein for example, peanuts have more protein than any other nut. And the reason is because of this hybrid it’s protein content more so mimics beans, about eight seven to eight grams of protein in that peanut, whereas for other not to mention almonds cashews, etc. Further nuts you may see it around five grams six grams, even four depending on the nut. That’s one of the reasons for that. Peanuts are also highest in Argentine, and this is a specific amino acid that helps to produce a compound that dilates our blood vessels, and this is what helps peanuts to help to prevent high blood pressure, as well as heart disease. So, there are multiple factors and we’re not saying that all nuts are not healthy, but there are different components in each in peanuts for example that really allows it to stand out and I’d say for peanuts, of course, It is also more sustainable than other nuts, the fact that it grows underground in the way that it does means that it means less water to actually produce. So you’re saving on water, economically, it’s better for the environment. And so that’s one of the reasons why, as we compare peanuts to other nuts, there’s definitely an advantage.
Mike Malatesta 41:49
Okay, so nuts, they grow on trees like, they require more water, like almond trees require a lot of water for example,
Samara Sterling 41:58
They do, they do.
Mike Malatesta 42:01
So you’re, I think your title is research director, is that correct. So, okay. So as I mentioned at the very beginning, I was not familiar with the peanut Institute until I became familiar with you. What is, what is the mission What does what’s the work that’s done, the boots on the ground sort of work that that is done I know I’ve read a little bit about your work I read about some meta metabolic syndrome studies related to peanuts but I, it wasn’t clear to me exactly like why the peanut Institute exists is it funded by peanut growers or is it fun, I just want to make sure I people get a good understanding of what it is.
Samara Sterling 42:45
Right, so the peanut Institute is really the nonprofit organization in the peanut industry, so it exists to the mission is to grow the awareness of the health and wellness benefits of peanut consumption. So, the wellness, which, you know, of course falls in line very much with my own personal beliefs, but it really exists to look at how peanut consumption, and consumption of other peanut products affects human health. So in terms of where the support comes from all segments of the industry so from your growers to your leaders to manufacturers there. Most of our folks within the industry are definitely appreciative of the message right because we are able to really show from the scientific perspective and looking from a clinical perspective of how peanut consumption actually helps our bodies so you know for practice when you’re talking to consumers who may not necessarily understand that connection. It’s definitely a benefit there boys here at the peanut Institute to interface with universities, as well as hospital research organizations, so we kind of span a wide range of organizations, not just here in the peanut industry but across the health and wellness space.
Mike Malatesta 44:17
And do you find that, that, in general, there’s, you know, a readily ready acceptance, I guess is what I’m trying to say, of peanuts, as a health food, or is there, kind of like, we get it at the ballpark, and you know if Texas Roadhouse it’s all over the floor but I you know. Yeah, I’m just wondering what you run into typically.
Samara Sterling 44:46
Yeah, so a lot of people don’t know that peanuts are a superfood. So when we do tell them, we do kind of share that information with them, sometimes it does come as a surprise, we’re able to look at the research like the ones that you’ve mentioned on metabolic syndrome or cancer or heart disease and show the benefits for peanut consumption, they’re able to see that. I think one of the unique things too is that we also attend nutrition conferences, dietitians and other clinicians, and they’re very much interested in how I can use this information in my clinical setting. And for them, they’re able to share the information that we give them with their patients, or with their clients, and that’s kind of how the information kind of gets circulated there so initially maybe a surprise to learn that peanuts are super food but once I show them the reasons for it, I think people will readily accept that.
Mike Malatesta 45:50
Yeah, right. So it sounds like a peanut supporter, yes. So your dad. Getting back to the hypertension, you know, low Salt Peanuts are typically when you get them in a jar or something they’re typically salted or maybe they’re not typically salted but I the ones that I’m familiar with, they’re typically salted. How Does, does the salt, what does the salt, take away from the superfood component of it or is it neutral or, or is it not good. When the salted what, what about the Rosing as well.
Samara Sterling 46:29
That’s a good question. There are two questions. So first, with, with the salt. So, a lot of people may think that peanuts have a lot of salt. But actually, the salt is added on at the end, and it’s only about average maybe 90 to 120 milligrams. Tastes a little bit salted because it’s added at the end but it’s really not a lot, which is why peanuts are included in the American Heart Association heart check program which says, this is basically healthy for your heart, and that includes hypertension. So we don’t really see in the research that eating peanuts whether it has a little salt on it or not, that it adversely affects health admits on the converse, we see we see just the opposite, that it does continue to help with cardiovascular disease as well as hypertension, like I mentioned before, opening up those blood vessels. So we don’t really see adverse health effects from the sodium and peanuts, because it’s really not a lot at
Samara Sterling 47:37
One of the things that I think about too is if having a small amount of salt, or a small amount of sugar I’m not talking about large amounts now, but it’s having a small amount on a whole food plant based product will help you eat it and make it more delicious. What that means is that you’re actually going to be getting more of it in, and you’re going to be getting all the nutrients, the vitamins and the minerals there so that it can actually function well in your body. If you don’t like how it tastes. You’re not going to be.
Mike Malatesta 48:08
okay. Yeah, so in that case, a little goes a long way if it makes you eat more. What about the, what about the roasting.
Samara Sterling 48:18
Oh yes, so the roasting practice. So, interestingly, the roasting process. We also don’t see any differences in the research. We know that for example, boiled peanuts have the highest level of resveratrol. This is an antioxidant attempt against cancer and heart disease. But we also know that there are other phytochemicals and antioxidants that are highest when you roast them. So it’s a, it’s a tradeoff, so to speak, you may get a higher level of one when you vote as opposed to when you boil. But when you choose to have it, you’re still getting some of those benefits. We don’t necessarily recommend eating peanuts, raw, so I would recommend having that either dry roasted or roasted or boiled peanuts.
Mike Malatesta 49:09
So I don’t think I’ve ever boiled a peanut that so yeah, but you got me there with that one is that, is that a popular thing that folks do, or
Samara Sterling 49:18
it’s a popular thing in the south, okay. I had it first when I moved to. It’s, it’s when you boil it though it’s boiled let’s first pick from the field in its green state so to speak. And that thing kind of eat as a snack, and it has more of a texture of like a chicken. Okay, that’s where that’s whereas we talked about earlier, the cross between a legume and a duck really happens, because when it’s roasted, like a lot when you boil it, it tastes more likely.
Mike Malatesta 49:55
Okay, thank you for that and how about when peanuts are made into foods like peanut butter for example and, maybe, I don’t know, maybe other foods, I’m not exactly sure all the things that peanuts go into but let’s stick with peanut butter.
Samara Sterling 50:12
Yeah. And as you said that just gave me a craving for peanut butter is basically, especially in the United States, this is one thing that we always say to in the United States, there’s actually a standard of identification for peanut butter, peanut butter has to contain at least 90% Peanuts. So, basically what happens is the peanuts are ground into a paste you can actually make it at home to winter food cross those peanuts up, and I was a simple food peanut butter. So make that a little bit of sugar a little bit of salt but at the end of the day, it’s all peanut butter, and you find those effects within one of the health effects that we do see with peanut butter, has to do with type two diabetes. Very much so. We know that when folks eat a little bit of peanut butter, maybe two tables, peanut butter with their breakfast in the morning, it helps to stabilize their blood sugar throughout the day. So, that’s it’s a food that’s commonly recommended in clinical settings for type two diabetes.
Mike Malatesta 51:25
Speaking of type two diabetes. Do you feel like that’s a disease that could largely go away with diet only?
Samara Sterling 51:37
For sure. I am talking type 2. So type two diabetes is considered a lifestyle disease, and the risk factors include being overweight, having other cardiovascular risk factors, or what we do know is that type two diabetes can be with diet and lifestyle changes including exercise including eating a healthy diet cutting down on high fat foods, and we’re talking about saturated fats, the ones that are not necessarily good for the heart, eating more of the good fats that you find in peanuts and peanut butter as well as eating a lot of beans, and whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Those are good for type two diabetes, and we do see in the resource that that can be reversed as well. Kind of go away but it goes back to what we were saying before whether or not people actually make the decision to make those lifestyle changes that remains to be seen, I think.
Mike Malatesta 52:41
That’s the million dollar like tipping point right how do you get if you can do that man, think of all the lives and that would be lengthened, and think of all the expense and, and, and just pain that would go away right.
Samara Sterling 53:01
You know, there was actually a study. One was this. This was 2019 Global Burden of Disease study where researchers actually highlighted, various parts of the world and how, how many lives can actually be saved, based on if we were a healthier diet, and they actually found that 11 million markets could be saved, per year, just by eating a healthy diet, and the various countries had different foods that, that they were lacking that would, that if they were to include it more it would help to save lives. So in Latin America, in that region nuts were definitely part of that, I think in the United States a lot of couples of fruits and vegetables. We can save a lot a lot.
Mike Malatesta 53:57
Yeah. How do you make that connection to emotional connection before you’re actually struggling, before you get there? So this study that you did with, or maybe you didn’t do it, but I think it was on the medic, the metabolic syndrome studies was two handfuls I think peanuts today. What if you’re looking at blood work or blood chemistry what would, what did what was seen that shows that you know that it was that it was working.
Samara Sterling 54:31
So metabolic syndrome is a cluster of factors that increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. And there are actually standards that we will get in a clinical setting. To diagnose metabolic syndrome. This includes high cholesterol, specifically your HDL cholesterol, blood sugar and elevated waist circumference is one. So, these are some of the measures that we look at triglycerides is another one, fancy word for some of the fat that’s in our blood. So we look at these measurements. And over the course of this three month period when he was done, the researchers found that multiple of those factors were actually decreased or reverse when people were eating just two servings per day.
Mike Malatesta 55:31
So this is how we were able to kind of tell that metabolic syndrome was being reversed, with no other change that was the only change or deliberate change at least?
Samara Sterling 55:37
I think that’s one of the powerful things about that particular study too is because, as we can talk about how do we get people to standardize Well, it starts one little step at a time. And in this study. We’re not asking you to just, just add something to your diet each day, something simple, something quick, and we saw some changes with that.
Mike Malatesta 56:04
That’s amazing. I would never have thought that I would never have thought that so, so I’m glad you’re sharing it because that’s an, like you said, super easy. That’s can’t get easier than that. So where do you see this, this whole food as medicine thing going, Dr. Sterling, where do you see. Where would you like to see. Where do you see that going and where would you like to see that going and, you know, so we’ve got the mean I know your role is to promote the you know the benefits of peanuts but you’re also, you know, you mentioned plant based several times you’re, I know you’re looking at this as more of a macro issue than just with peanuts but what do you see a future where, you know, chronic disease could potentially be eliminated because of, you know, food be or be eliminated because of what you eat, you know, paying attention to what you eat or where do you see, I’ve heard people all over the spectrum on this so I’m curious what your what your perspective is,
Samara Sterling 57:10
yeah. And you’re right, my aim is definitely macro level, what I would like to see is to see chronic disease eliminated, and that may be because I’m an idealist in the world. And I do think it’s possible. I think that what we’ll need first though, is more of a collaboration between science and the clinical setting, because we need to do the research, we know what the research says, but in general what we know is that translating scientific evidence into clinical practice takes an average of 17 years, shorten that time period, and allow for that transition to happen seamlessly. I think that we would get more of a result because physicians will be able to have ready access to that service to actually see how to do it themselves. There’s a, there’s an emerging branch of medicine called Lifestyle Medicine, you can actually get a certification in this now. And it’s basically looking at preventative measures such as nutrition that, that physicians can actually prescribe to their patients, so you literally see a nutrition prescription. Here are the fruits and vegetables that you need to buy before we start you on any medication. I think being able to merge those two rounds is going to be key before we actually see the changes that we want to see.
Mike Malatesta 58:43
And what is it that gets that makes the science to clinical route. So, extended Why does it take so long. No,
Samara Sterling 58:53
I think that’s a good question. And I’m not sure that I have the perfect answer for it, but I think that just in general, they’ve been two separate. So, nutrition science. Think about from way back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who said, let food be thy medicine right yours. Medicine has transformed to treating the symptoms of disease, right, and then nutrition is sort of divorced from that, in the sense. Still, why that has happened over the years, I’m not really sure that shift happened. There’s a lot of historical, but it to get into but not necessarily, we can’t necessarily pinpoint where the shift happened, But I do you know that, for example in medical school needs to have nutrition there are papers that are being written right now that we need to have more nutrition education in. Because if young doctors don’t know about the policy, they’re not going to teach that to their patients, where the connection happened. I’m not sure how it is, we need to cut it. Yeah.
Mike Malatesta 1:00:06
And what role do you see the food manufacturers, playing because it seems like. At some point we have to get on board with the supply chain right because if the supply chain is, if we’re putting out all this data about what you should be doing, and the supply chain is giving you all kinds of things that don’t align with that. I’m just going back to the you can wake up, you know whatever you, you want to eat you have to go buy it somewhere. So what do you think about that challenge?
Samara Sterling 1:00:41
Well, I think that from a supply chain perspective there’s this interconnection and interdependency between your foods, and our supply chain right because manufacturers will produce what consumers want and consumers will eat what manufacturers produce, so we’re connected to each other and dependent on each other. What we are seeing now is that consumers themselves based on the scientific research and based on the communication that they’re receiving on health benefits of foods. They’re asking for healthier foods, you just mentioned that, you know, you can try it a few, you know diets that you mentioned failed, they also may choose to try. People are becoming more aware, so they’re demanding that from. Well, as the Jupiter that food manufacturers tend to shift. It’s the reason why we’re seeing a plant based burger at Burger King. These days, you know, we’re seeing that shift in our food scape, but it takes I think it takes from an individual level, educating ourselves about what we’re eating, and then making those individual choices, and then that ultimately translates to a change in the entire foods, grassroots. You got to start telling people what you want.
Mike Malatesta 1:02:04
Yeah. So what do you, this is my last question for you Samara, what, what’s the impact that when you think about your impact 1020 career impact what, what do you want to be able to say about yourself and your work, where you’d be like, Yep, I got it done.
Samara Sterling 1:02:36
I could give you a scripted answer, but I think I’ll give you the real answer.
Samara Sterling 1:02:40
Well I think about my work, 10 to 20 years. I want to change the world. I want to change the world, change the way that we view food, change our understanding of how food can actually help our bodies I talk about my family level seeing the changes there. In my family, and I know we didn’t discuss it much but the projects that I’ve put in my community and seeing how it affects people, I want to do that on a global scale. I wanted to see the effects for folks on a global scale because every three life counts, and if we can bet people’s lives one life at a time, then for me that’s a fulfilling life. So that might be a broad answer but it’s the, it’s the real answer and it’s what I aspire to.
Mike Malatesta 1:03:43
It feels like something you’re going to get to.
Samara Sterling 1:03:46
Oh yeah, sure. Yeah, one of those things, you know, this is where you’re going. This is what’s going to happen, pieces are falling in love.
Mike Malatesta 1:04:00
I’m gonna be excited to be there and see you can see you get that done. That’s awesome. So, how, how do you want people to connect with you or the peanut Institute or what do you what would you like people to do.
Samara Sterling 1:04:15
So to connect with us at the peanut Institute, you can look at our website, you can connect with us through our website, www.peanutinstitute.com There you will find tons of recipes you’ll find a lot of information to scientific information as well as just general information. If you’re in a clinical setting, we also have graphics infographics that you can share with others. And if you’d like to contact me personally. Now you can also do that through the website as well we have a contact us form you can just send a message there and you can also follow us on social media, I forgot to mention this on all channels, basically, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, pretty much whatever you use, we’re also there, so you can check us out there too.
Mike Malatesta 1:05:06
Okay. Excellent, well thank you so much for being on the show today and sharing your story and your passion, I, I learned a lot and I hope I didn’t. I hope I didn’t ask you. Still regretting asking you the peanut question, how the peanuts are grown but anyway, I’ll get over it. Thank you so much for being on the show, it’s a lot of fun.
Samara Sterling 1:05:26
Yes, it’s been fun for me as well, even the peanut question.