Our health and the oil that we consume are closely related. One of the most popular vegetable oils today is peanut oil. Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil or Arachis oil, is extracted from the seeds of the peanut plant and is prized for its numerous health benefits.
Let’s take a look at peanuts and peanut oil in this article. We will learn some interesting facts about peanuts and how they can benefit your health.
All About Peanuts
Peanuts go by a variety of names – groundnuts, earthnuts, monkey nuts, and several other names. Interestingly, despite their name, peanuts are not actually ‘nuts’ like almonds, cashews, and walnuts but belong to the legume family. However, like other nuts, they are rich in nutritional value. Peanuts also grow underground as opposed to all the other nuts that grow on trees in the form of fruit seeds.
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are native to South America. Archaeological evidence of peanuts dating back to 3000 BC has been found in South American countries. Between 1850 and 1900 AD, multiple varieties of peanuts were also being produced in India, first in the South and then the Western regions.
Some common cultivations and types of peanuts include Spanish, Runner, Virginia, and Valencia varieties. Spanish peanuts, known for their small kernels and reddish-brown skin, contain high oil content, which makes them ideal for oil extraction. Rubber peanuts are delicious in flavour and good for roasting. Virginia peanuts are large-kernelled and eaten roasted and salted as a snack. Valencia peanuts are sweet and usually boiled before eating.
Nutritional Profile of Peanuts
Peanuts are high in fats as well as calories. A 100 grams of peanuts provides around 570 calories. Despite a high calorific value, peanuts are a great source of plant-based protein. They contain more protein than many other vegetables, nuts, pulses, and even more than meat and eggs.
Peanuts are also rich in healthy fats, protein, fibre, and many vitamins and minerals, including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Peanuts also have high amounts of B Vitamins, including niacin, thiamine, and folate, as well as Vitamin E. They also contain antioxidants polyphenols such as p-Coumaric acid, which increases the antioxidant content of peanuts by 22% when roasted.
Health Benefits of Peanuts and Peanut Oil
Cold-pressed peanut oil, made from grounded and pressed peanuts, contains many of the benefits offered by peanuts. Vitamin E present in peanut and peanut oil is also a good source of antioxidants. It can help prevent high blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk factors.
Peanut oil is also heart-healthy and contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, both of which can cut down your risk of heart disease. A rich diet that includes peanut or peanut oil can help lower bad cholesterol levels. It can also boost insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. Niacin in peanuts also helps maintain good brain health and improve blood circulation. The fibres present in peanut oil also help reduce inflammation.
Resveratrol, one of the flavonoids in peanuts, may bring down your risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. The Vitamin E content in peanuts also helps strengthen hair follicles and has anti-aging properties. However, most of the beneficial antioxidants are located in the thin peanut skin, which is why it’s recommended to eat peanuts raw.
How to Use Peanuts and Peanut Oil
Peanuts are very versatile and can be consumed in many ways. This is why adding peanuts to your diet is an easy task. You can eat peanuts raw, roasted, boiled, baked, fried, powdered, as well as blanched.
Peanuts can be eaten directly as snacks or added to a variety of foods such as granola bars, oats, cakes, smoothies, muffins, ice cream, desserts, etc. You can also make peanut chutney and peanut sauce or turn them into delicious homemade peanut butter.
Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil, offers a light aroma and a nutty flavour. It has a high smoking point and can be used for frying, baking, sautéing, stir-frying, and other forms of cooking. You can also drizzle peanut oil on salads as dressing or use it in peanut sauce and marinades.
Apart from their health benefits, peanuts are also high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. Peanut allergies can pose a health risk. If you suspect an allergy, it’s best to consult a doctor before you add peanuts to your daily diet.
Peanuts and peanut oil are consumed across the world regularly and form a major part of East and Southeast Asian cuisines. They are also favoured for snacking and cooking in India.
One can say that peanuts live up to their reputation. With a solid nutritional profile and numerous health advantages, they make a good addition to your diet. If you’re using peanut oil in your cooking, we recommend using cold-pressed peanut oil to enjoy maximum benefits in terms of health as well as flavour.