Peanuts and Peanut Butter Linked to Improved Memory and Stress Reduction, Says University of Barcelona Study
4 mins read

Peanuts and Peanut Butter Linked to Improved Memory and Stress Reduction, Says University of Barcelona Study

ALBANY, Ga., Sept. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ – A groundbreaking study from the University of Barcelona has revealed that daily consumption of peanuts and peanut butter can lead to the production of compounds in the gut that significantly enhance memory and reduce stress responses, including anxiety and depression, among healthy young adults. The findings, originating from the ARISTOTLE study, were recently published online in the Journal of Functional Foods in September and were shared by The Peanut Institute.

Peanuts and Peanut Butter Linked to Improved Memory and Stress Reduction, Says University of Barcelona Study

The research, conducted by the University of Barcelona, delved into the emerging field of the gut-brain axis, which examines the biochemical communication between the gut and the brain. Using innovative methods, the study identified phenolic compounds produced during the digestion of peanuts and peanut butter and explored how these compounds contribute to better brain health.

In comparison to the control group, participants who incorporated peanuts and peanut butter into their daily diets displayed higher levels of microbial phenolic metabolites (MPMs). These are compounds capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier to safeguard brain cells. Previous findings from the ARISTOTLE trial revealed that individuals consuming peanuts and peanut butter experienced improvements in memory and stress response, primarily attributed to the polyphenols present in peanuts.

These recent findings further underscore the potential of the gut microbiota to generate compounds from peanut polyphenols that positively influence brain function. The study established a strong association between MPMs and memory enhancement, as well as stress reduction.

Dr. Isabella Parilli Moser, the study’s first author, explains, “Peanuts and peanut butter may have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota because they are rich in prebiotic fiber and polyphenols. Due to their very poor absorption, fiber and most polyphenols directly reach the colon, where they are metabolized by the gut microbiota, giving rise to new compounds (MPMs), which can have beneficial effects on the brain.”

Dr. Sara Hurtado-Barroso, co-author of the study, adds, “Prebiotic substances present in peanuts and peanut butter, such as polyphenols, may positively affect cognition and mood by promoting the production of microbial phenolic metabolites.”

The six-month randomized controlled trial involved 63 healthy participants aged 18 to 33, comprising mostly students from the University of Barcelona in Spain. Participants consumed either one handful (25 grams) of roasted peanuts with skins daily or two tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter daily, while another group consumed an equivalent amount of control butter. The study subjects continued with their regular diets and could consume the peanut products at any time of the day. Certain foods high in resveratrol, such as wine, grapes, dark chocolate (with over 70% cacao), and berries, were excluded due to their antioxidant content. Additionally, other nuts were omitted from the diet due to their similar nutritional composition.

Dr. Samara Sterling, a nutrition scientist and research director for The Peanut Institute, emphasizes the growing importance of gut microbiome research, which plays a vital role in influencing the immune system, brain health, and various bodily functions. Dr. Sterling notes that these findings are particularly exciting because even a relatively small daily intake of peanuts had a statistically significant impact on memory and mood.

The research is part of Dr. Isabella Parilli-Moser’s PhD thesis, under the mentorship of Dr. Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós at the University of Barcelona. The study received support from The Peanut Institute, PID2020-114022RB-I00, CIBEROBN from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, ISCIII from the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (AEI/FEDER, UE), and Generalitat de Catalunya (GC) [2021-SGR-00334]. INSA-UB is Maria de Maeztu Unit of Excellence (grant CEX2021-001234-M funded by MICIN/AEI/FEDER, UE). The funders did not have any role in the study design, implementation, analysis, interpretation of data, or manuscript writing.

The Peanut Institute, headquartered in Albany, Ga., is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting nutrition research and developing educational programs that promote healthy lifestyles inclusive of peanuts and peanut products. Through research initiatives, educational efforts, and the advocacy of healthful living across all age groups, The Peanut Institute serves as an independent platform working alongside the food industry, research community, academia, consumer organizations, and government institutions.


  • Isabella Parilli-Moser, Ricardo López-Solís, Inés Domínguez-López, Anna Vallverdú-Queralt, Sara Hurtado-Barroso, Rosa M Lamuela-Raventós, Consumption of peanut products enhances the production of microbial phenolic metabolites related to memory and stress response: Results from the ARISTOTLE trial, Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 108, 2023, 105746, ISSN 1756-4646,

SOURCE The Peanut Institute

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *