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Peanuts also called as groundnuts belong to the family Fabaceae and are mainly cultivated for their edible seeds. Unlike other crop plants, peanuts grow underground rather than above the ground.

It is believed that peanuts originated in Brazil or Peru where the first cultivators of wild peanuts were offered to the Sun God as part of religious ceremonies.

Peanuts are said to be very rich in protein, oil, and fibres. So are definitely a treat to your body along with your taste buds.

Other functional compounds such as polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are also present in these crunchy nuts. It has been identified that peanuts are a  great source of compounds such as resveratrol, phenolic acids, flavonoids and phytosterols which helps in blocking the absorption of bad cholesterol from our food and assist in keeping the heart healthy.

Apart from oil production, they are also used in the production of peanut butter, confections, roasted peanuts, snack products, soups, and desserts.

Some basic facts about Peanuts:

  • Scientific Name: Arachis hypogaea
  • Common Name(s): Peanut, (Arachis hypogaea), also called groundnut, earthnut, Munghfali
  • Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae – Pea family  
  • Common Hindi name: मूँगफली (Munghphali)
  • Native Region and Geographical Distribution: The peanut plants are believed to have originated in Brazil or Peru, although no fossil records exist to prove this. But people in South America (3,500 years or so) have been making pottery in the shape of peanuts. China is the largest producer of peanuts in the world, followed by India. In India, Gujarat is the largest groundnut producing state followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
  • Fun fact: Nearly 540 peanuts are required to make a jar of peanut butter. George Washington Carver is known as “The peanut man” because he developed more than three hundred products which were derived from peanuts.
  1. Peanuts nutrition facts
  2. Peanuts health benefits
  3. Peanuts side effects
  4. Takeaway

Peanuts are a rich source of protein and fibre. Although peanuts contain 49.24 g of fats per 100 g, these fats are actually heart-healthy fat or unsaturated fats Peanuts are known to contain an antioxidant called resveratrol. This is the same antioxidant present in red wine and this is known to reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease in people.  

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of peanuts contain the following nutrients:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 6.5 g
Energy 567 kcal
Protein 25.8 g
Fat 49.24 g
Carbohydrate 16.13 g
Fiber 8.5 g
Sugars 4.72 g
Minerals  
Calcium 92 mg
Iron 4.58 mg
Magnesium 168 mg
Phosphorus 376 mg
Potassium 705 mg
Sodium 18 mg
Zinc 3.27 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin B1 0.64 mg
Vitamin B2 0.135 g
Vitamin B3 12.066 g
Vitamin B6 0.348 mg
Folate 240 µg
Vitamin E 8.33 mg
Fats/Fatty acids  
Saturated 6.279 g
Monounsaturated 24.426 g
Polyunsaturated 15.558 g

Did you ever wonder how healthy that extra crunch of peanuts over your salads and ice cream Sunday is? You would be glad to know that taking a handful of peanuts in a day could do wonders for your health. And what better? There are scientific facts to prove that. Let us have a look at the many healing properties that make peanuts such a healthy snack:

  • For weight loss: Peanuts are rich in fibres, which makes them a snack for healthy munching. Thus, the help in keeping you full for long allowing you to munch lesser. Peanuts are also rich in dietary proteins and contain all the essential amino acids. Proteins help in building muscle mass of your body giving you a more lean look.
  • For the skin: Peanuts help to keep your skin smooth and assist in the process of wound healing.
  • For cholesterol: Peanuts help to reduce LDL while increasing HDL, which is a good type of cholesterol. They also help to maintain cholesterol levels immediately after a meal.
  • For the heart: By lowering cholesterol and due to the presence of vitamin E, peanuts help in reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and coronary heart disease.
  • For mental health: Consumption of peanuts is associated with reduction in the incidence of depression, anxiety and even Alzheimer’s disease due to its rich composition of antioxidants and vitamins.
  • For gallstones: Regular consumption of peanuts can help in the prevention of gallstones due to interference in the production of bile acids.
  • Against cancer: Consuming peanuts may help modify your risk of cancer, particularly that of the stomach.
  1. Peanuts reduce cholesterol
  2. Peanuts for weight loss
  3. Peanuts benefits for heart
  4. Peanuts as a protein source
  5. Peanuts for gallstones
  6. Peanuts for Alzheimer's
  7. Peanuts benefits for skin
  8. Peanuts for depression
  9. Peanuts anti cancer properties

Peanuts reduce cholesterol

Since peanuts are mostly made of unsaturated fats, extensive studies have been done on the hypolipidemic (cholesterol lowering) properties of peanuts. In vivo (animal based) studies indicate that peanuts reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol while at the same time helping maintain the HDL cholesterol in the body.

In a clinical study done in Ghana, regular peanut consumption was found to balance the cholesterol levels within 4 weeks.

According to a recent clinical study published in the Journal of Nutrition, consumption of 85 g of peanuts along with a high-fat diet helps in improving postprandial hyperlipidemia, which is the spike in blood fatty acids right after a meal. 

(Read more: High cholesterol treatment)

Peanuts for weight loss

It is a common misconception that eating nuts when you are on diet will increase your weight. The reason for this misconception is because of the high-fat content present in nuts. Several studies have shown that this is not true and in some cases, including nuts such as peanuts actually help you reduce weight in a healthy way. This is because the fat present in nuts is mostly unsaturated fatty acids which actually helps prevent high cholesterol and help maintain a healthy balance of fats in the body. A trait essential to keep obesity at bay. 

Peanuts are a rich source of dietary fibre, which makes you feel full for longer and prevents unnecessary munching.

According to a study published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition,  including peanuts and peanut products to your diet does not lead to an increase in your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. A balanced BMI means healthier body weight.

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Peanuts benefits for heart

Peanut is loaded with nutrients and active compounds that are healthy for your heart. The unsaturated fat content alone is enough to make it a healthy food for heart patients. Let us have a look at the many ways your heart can benefit from regular peanut consumption.

Regular peanut consumption is very good for keeping your cholesterol levels in check. Clinical studies indicate that it improves lipid profiles and aids in reducing the risk of plaque development in the blood vessels, which otherwise could block heart arteries and pose a threat of heart attack and heart diseases.

Peanuts have a good amount of vitamin E,  which has been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

The amino acid arginine present in peanuts improves blood circulation, which again is a sign of a healthy cardiovascular system.

Peanuts are rich in flavonoids, unsaturated fats and various other compounds. Together, these aid in reducing high blood pressure, which is one of the major risk factors for heart diseases. 

Also, peanuts contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, the same antioxidant present in red wine. By reducing oxidative stress, this helps maintain heart function thus preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Peanuts as a protein source

If you are a health enthusiast you might already know peanuts to be one of the best sources of proteins. But do you know what puts this nut in this category? Well, peanuts contain all of the 20 essential amino acids and they are the best source of arginine, an amino acid which is used in the biosynthesis of many important proteins in the body. Peanuts are known to have the maximum amount of protein compared to other nuts. In fact, the protein content in peanuts is equivalent to the protein content in meat or eggs.

These proteins have great emulsifying activity (breaking down fats into small droplets), emulsifying stability (maintaining the fat as droplets, for easier use by the body) and great water retention properties. The ease of digestibility of peanut protein is as good as any other animal protein.

So, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, peanuts could be the perfect choice of proteins for you.

Peanuts for gallstones

Gallstones refer to the tiny stones that form inside your gallbladder due to hardening of digestive fluids and cholesterol. Gallstones could be a cause of major discomfort and pain, the only respite being surgery to remove this organ. However, nuts, especially peanuts can save you from the worst of this condition. Studies indicate that the unsaturated fats present in peanuts eliminate the risk of gallstones by decreasing the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. 

According to a clinical study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular peanut consumption reduces the risk of cholecystectomy.

Peanuts host a variety of antioxidants, which by reducing oxidative stress prevent gallstone formation. This has been evidenced by the effect of Vitamin E on gallstone formation.

Peanuts also contain a good amount of fibre and research evidence suggests that fibre reduces the risk of gallstone and cholecystectomy by reducing the production of secondary bile acids which are responsible for gallstone formation. 

Peanuts for Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disease that slowly deteriorates brain function and motor skills. According to NIH, it is the major cause of age-related dementia and loss of cognition. There is no definitive cure for this disease, treatment usually includes cognitive therapies and behavioural management to help people live a normal life. Consuming peanuts can help protect you from Alzheimer's disease as they are rich in vitamin B3 and vitamin E. However, the same effect was not associated with other antioxidants. 

Furthermore, studies on resveratrol demonstrate that it prevents brain cell damage by interfering with certain cell signalling pathways. Peanuts, as a good source of resveratrol, could thus hold some therapeutic potential against Alzheimer's.

Peanuts benefits for skin

Peanuts are full of vitamin E and vitamin B which is very ideal for your skin. Studies indicate that B vitamin promotes fibroblast development and the process of wound healing. As antioxidants, these vitamins ensure that you do not suffer from premature ageing signs like wrinkles and dark spots.

Also, the fat content present in peanuts would help helps maintain skin barrier, avoiding the loss of moisture from your skin surface. This means that you do not suffer from dry skin condition.

Using peanut oil also protects you from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Just mix a bit of this oil with your massage oil and you are good to go. 

Peanuts for depression

Depression is a result of various environmental and neurological changes that happen to the brain chemicals. Peanuts contain at least 2 important compounds that have been linked to mood alleviation and prevention of depression. First, it makes a good source of B vitamin which, when present in low amounts are associated with depression and mood suppression. In a review article and a case study, consumption of vitamin B3 was found to be useful in alleviating depression symptoms and improving mood.

Additionally, the amino acid tryptophan present in peanut is very essential for the synthesis of serotonin. Serotonin is the pleasure hormone that uplifts mood and reduces depression. Though the direct effect of tryptophan is still unclear, a deficiency has been found to cause a relapse of symptoms in previously treated individuals.

Peanuts anti cancer properties

Peanuts play a major role in preventing cancer. Peanuts contain polyphenols, an antioxidant. This prevents the formation of toxic nitrogen compounds in the stomach. This, in turn, reduces the risk of stomach cancer. Also, research proves that various types of cancers can be prevented by consuming peanuts such as:

  • Peanut allergy is one of the most common types of food allergy. It is a serious condition which is usually accompanied by abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, and shortness of breath.
  • Peanuts are prone to aflatoxin contamination which is created by a fungus, Aspergillus flavus. Aflatoxins are dangerous for health as they cause malignant new growths in your skin. Once the peanut becomes yellowish, it's dangerous and should not be consumed.
  • Peanuts are known to be helpful in weight loss, though, they provide a lot of calories and thus may not as effective in weight management when consumed in excess.
  • Though peanuts have a good amount of potassium, it is rich in sodium too. Taking too much of this mineral can have adverse effects on your heart and health.
  • it is better to avoid fried and salted peanuts since it has trans fats and a much higher level of sodium which would do more harm than good.

Peanuts contain all the nutrients that your body needs. It is a good source of proteins, unsaturated fat, various minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium and a rich source of different vitamins, all of which are beneficial for the health. Peanuts are usually referred to as poor man’s protein. Moderate consumption of peanuts by people who are non-allergic can do wonders for the body and mind.

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