Could eating peanut butter daily help support older adults to stay physically strong and mentally sharp? 

A new study is investigating whether eating peanut butter each day could improve the physical and cognitive capacity of older adults.

Dr Sze-Yen Tan from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, is leading a randomised controlled trial to discover whether adding 42g a day of 100% natural peanut butter to older adults’ diets for six months leads to improvements in their functional capacity. 

He is recruiting 120 adults aged 65 years and over, who are at risk of functional decline, for the study. The adults will either be placed in a control group, without any intervention, or in a second group whose participants will be supplied with 42 grams of peanut butter per day.  

Participants will be assessed before and after their involvement in the study to determine their: 

  • Physical function, such as walking speed and balance, as well as muscle mass and upper- and lower-body muscle strength and power;  
  • Cognitive function, including attention, concentration, executive functions, memory, language, conceptual thinking, calculations, orientation etc., and 
  • Dietary intake and diet quality. 

Dr Tan said older adults are at high risk of inadequate nutrition and rapid functional decline, making them more likely to suffer falls and fractures, lose the ability to live independently, and have a reduced quality of life.  

He is hoping that the humble peanut butter may prove to be a simple and affordable adjustment to older people’s diets to benefit their nutrition and health.  

“We chose peanuts for this project as they are high in energy and nutrient density, and their protein and healthy fat content may improve physical and cognitive functions,” he said. 

“When we address the nutritional concerns of older adults, we tend to think about supplements such as protein powder and formulated ready-to-drink products, which can be expensive and unfamiliar, so compliance may be poor. 

“On the other hand, peanut butter is a commonly eaten, affordable food, making it an easy food to integrate into older adults’ diets.” 

Dr Tan said eating peanut butter was also superior to eating whole peanuts in this population, because almost 100 per cent of the nutrients are available to be absorbed, compared to only about 80 per cent when eaten in the whole kernel form. Being a paste, peanut butter also helps to overcome possible dental issues and is also easier for older adults to digest.  

A recent Lancet review found that malnutrition among older adults is a significant problem, with around a quarter of older adults (65 years and older) in the community at risk. 

“If proven effective, incorporating peanut butter to a daily diet is a strategy that could be readily and cost-effectively implemented widely in the future, for example added to the daily diet of aged care facility residents,” Dr Tan said. 

 Join our peanut butter study! 

 If you are aged 65 years or over and can travel to Burwood, Victoria, you may be eligible for our study! 

Volunteers will need to visit Deakin University’s Burwood campus twice, 6 months apart, and our researchers will: 

  • measure your height, weight, muscle mass and blood pressure 
  • ask you to perform simple tasks to assess your brain function 
  • ask you to perform simple exercises e.g. sitting, standing, walking 
  • ask you to complete a few questionnaires and record your food intake for 3 days 
  • ask you to consume peanut butter if you are in the intervention group 

You will receive a $150 gift voucher for your time if you complete the study. 

Click here to check your eligibility to participate. 

For more details email