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Antiviral Peanut Butter

August 26, 2011

I often look through the search terms that land people on my blog. I’d like to think that people find what they are looking for when they come to my site. However, every now and then I see a search phrase like “antiviral peanut butter”, and know that one person left my blog unsatisfied. And so this post is for you, antiviral peanut butter boy/girl.

When I saw the phrase “antiviral peanut butter” in my search engine terms, I asked myself the question, “Is peanut butter antiviral?” because I honestly didn’t know. When I threw this search phrase into Google, I was sent to Peanut Butter Information on eHow health.

What I found out is that peanut butter contains a substance called resveratrol, which is in fact antiviral. Note: There is more resveratrol in natural peanut butter than in blended peanut butters (1). Resveratrol is also found in grapes and red wine. The resveratrol illustration on the right is from Gupta et al.

Resveratrol appears to inhibit viral infection/replication by regulating inflammatory responses and cellular stress pathways, rather than interacting directly with virus (2). To be more specific, resveratrol (1) inhibits activation of the NF-kB pathway in response to TNF, and (2) increases activation of p53. NK-kB is a “key regulator” of the inflammatory response. By inhibiting its activation, resveratrol acts as an anti-inflammatory (2,3). Since host NF-kB is necessary for efficient replication of several viruses, including Influenza A, HSV-1, and HIV-1; resveratrol is likely inhibiting viral replication when it inhibits NK-kB (2,4). By increasing activation of p53, a cellular protein involved in type I interferon-mediated antiviral responses; resveratrol is also likely increasing antiviral immunity (2).

In summary, evidence suggests that resveratrol found in peanut butter and red wine could possibly act as an immune therapy during viral infection, inhibiting viral replication via NF-kB inhibition, and enhancing type I interferon-mediated antiviral immune responses via p53 activation. So the next time you have the flu, have some peanut butter toast and a glass of red wine with your chicken soup. And please don’t take that last sentence as real medical advice.


(1) Ibern-Gómez M, Roig-Pérez S, Lamuela-Raventós RM, & de la Torre-Boronat MC (2000). Resveratrol and piceid levels in natural and blended peanut butters. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 48 (12), 6352-4 PMID: 11312807

(2) Campagna, M., & Rivas, C. (2010). Antiviral activity of resveratrol Biochemical Society Transactions, 38 (1) DOI: 10.1042/BST0380050

(3) Gupta SC, Kim JH, Kannappan R, Reuter S, Dougherty PM, & Aggarwal BB (2011). Role of nuclear factor κB-mediated inflammatory pathways in cancer-related symptoms and their regulation by nutritional agents. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 236 (6), 658-71 PMID: 21565893

(4) Nabel, G., & Baltimore, D. (1987). An inducible transcription factor activates expression of human immunodeficiency virus in T cells Nature, 326 (6114), 711-713 DOI: 10.1038/326711a0

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jayne permalink
    September 19, 2011 9:40 AM

    I’m not sure if this applies to the resveratrol in peanuts, but there is negligible resveratrol in modern red wine because grapes produce resveratrol as a defence against fungal attack and modern farming uses chemical fungicides, thus no need for the grape to produce its own fungicide. I think even organic growers are allowed to spray copper and sulphur products to control fungal infestations.

    It’s a while since I looked pretty thoroughly into resveratrol so I can’t readily find the source of my info (a quick search on Google gets swamped by the good-news copycats). The only reputable link I can find tonight is at Clinical Correlations where there is this comment, “While resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine, it is not naturally found in sufficient amounts to produce the hypothesized benefits.”

    Since I’m posting from Adelaide (capital city of South Australia), and McLaren Vale is at the southern edge of this sprawling city (and fighting hard not to have its beautiful wine growing region displaced by encroaching suburbia), I might as well shamelessly add this link, which has additional info: “The normal resveratrol content of wine is 1-2 milligrams per litre (whites) and 4-6 mg/l (reds).”

    I’ve just found your blog tonight (via search to check on reputation of Dr Art Ayers). You have his blog in your blogroll; so shall follow both of you. Yours is a great site.

    Off topic, but interesting podcast about how internet is manipulated:

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