Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, is important to both small and large commercial producers. It is classified as both a grain legume and, because of its high oil content, an oil crop. Peanuts are absolutely delicious. In fact, peanuts are likely the most popular “nut” in the world, even though they aren’t nuts at all. Peanuts more correctly belong to the legume family, so are related to beans and lentils more than other nuts. They are extremely versatile and can be used for making peanut oils, peanut butter and other products such as flour and protein powder.
Nutritional Value of Peanut
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||2,385 kJ (570 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||9 g|
|Aspartic acid||3.060 g|
|Glutamic acid||5.243 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Active Ingredients of Peanut
The following vitamins and minerals are in particularly high amounts in peanuts (3)
- Biotin – Peanuts are one of the richest dietary sources of biotin, which is particularly important during pregnancy (4, 5).
- Copper – A dietary trace mineral that is often low in the Western diet. Copper deficiency may have adverse effects on heart health (6).
- Niacin – Also known as vitamin B3, niacin has various important functions in the body. Niacin has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease (7).
- Folate – Also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, folate has many essential functions and is especially important in pregnancy (8).
- Manganese – A trace element found in drinking water and most foods.
- Vitamin E – A powerful antioxidant, often found in high amounts in fatty foods.
- Thiamin – One of the B-vitamins, also known as vitamin B1. It helps the body’s cells convert carbs into energy, and is essential for the function of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
- Phosphorus – Peanuts are a good source of phosphorus, a mineral that plays an essential role in the growth and maintenance of body tissues.
- Magnesium – An essential dietary mineral with various important functions. Magnesium intake is believed to protect against heart disease (9).
Other Plant Compounds of Peanut
A few noteworthy plant compounds found in peanut kernels include:
- P-Coumaric acid – A polyphenol that is one of the main antioxidants in peanuts (10, 15).
- Resveratrol – A powerful antioxidant that may reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease (16). Resveratrol is most notably found in red wine.
- Isoflavones – A class of antioxidant polyphenols, the most common of which is genistein. Categorized as phytoestrogens, isoflavones are associated with a variety of health effects, both good and bad (17).
- Phytic Acid – Found in plant seeds (including nuts), phytic acid may impair the absorption of iron and zinc from peanuts and other foods eaten at the same time (18).
- Phytosterols – Peanut oil contains considerable amounts of phytosterols, the most common of which is beta-sitosterol (19). Phytosterols impair the absorption of cholesterol from the digestive tract (20).
Health Benefits of Peanuts
Here are some of the most well-known health benefits of Peanuts.
- Peanuts May Help Prevent Diabetes – The most common form of diabetes in adults in type 2, characterized by poor insulin sensitivity or low secretion. While it is possible to reverse this type of diabetes, a better approach is to prevent it in the first place. The way peanuts help is via a few things; such as their relatively low carbohydrate and sugar content, but also due to the presence of manganese. Manganese promotes fat and carbohydrate metabolism, allowing more glucose to enter muscle and liver cells, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. These conditions are ideal for maintaining insulin sensitivity and preserving normal function for years to come.
- Help Prevent Development of Gallstones – Gallstones are not stones at all but are rather semi-solid blobs of bile acids that may have too much cholesterol in it. This is by far the most common cause of bile stones, and why peanuts are well poised to help out. Peanuts have a high proportion of healthy MUFA (monounsaturated fatty acids), which help to reduce blood cholesterol levels of the “bad” cholesterol, LDL, and raise the amount of good cholesterol, or HDL. Just an ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter each week can save you from gall stones or gallbladder diseases with 25% reduced risk. This amazing health benefit of peanuts keeps all the diseases at bay (21).
- Peanuts Boost Memory – You’ve undoubtedly heard that elephants never forget and that they also love peanuts, right? Well even though this tends to appear in fairy tales as compared to real life, there is truth to the peanut part. Peanuts do boost memory. This is believed to be due to the presence of niacin and the anti-oxidant resveratrol, which improves blood flow to the brain and also possesses strong anti-oxidant abilities. Resveratrol is the compound in red wine that gives it all of its notable benefits on health, being studied for its ability to prevent neurodegenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well.
- Peanuts Help Prevent Depression – Depression has a strong genetic link but is also strongly the result of environmental and neurological changes to brain chemicals. In particular, is suppressed production of serotonin, which is a major contributing factor to the diagnosis of depression. Peanuts contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin. Serotonin helps in the promotion of a positive mood, with many prescription strength medication working by a similar mechanism to increase serotonin accumulation.
- Can Help With Weight Loss – Though peanuts themselves are loaded with calories, the good news is that eating a moderate amount is not bad, and may actually promote weight loss. How? Because peanuts are loaded with protein and fiber. Both of these nutrients have appetite suppressing effects, so having a few nuts in between meals can actually fill your sweet tooth and kill any other cravings you may be having. Plus, keep in mind that peanuts are actually good for you, giving the ultimate win-win.
- Helps Promote Healthy Skin – Peanuts are rich in vitamin E and various B vitamins, which help to preserve skin health. Plus, the fat content of peanuts helps skin cells to strengthen their cell membranes- the barrier that prevents excessive water loss. Instead of opting for that expensive moisturizer, try a handful of nuts. You will be getting far more bang for your buck.
- Helps Reduce Stroke Risk – In what can be considered a very rare trait, peanuts can actually decrease the likelihood of you expediting a stroke. This is due to resveratrol, the compound briefly mentioned earlier that is also found in red wine and grapes. This compound helps to prevent damage to blood vessels that is caused by angiotensin, a hormone like substance that results in blood vessel constriction. Angiotensin is most necessary when the body has suffered extreme dehydration or blood loss, but at other times is just a burden in maintaining normal blood pressure. At the same time, peanuts can help to increase levels of nitric oxide produced, helping blood vessels relax and dilate with greater ease.
- Helps Prevent Stomach Cancer – Though any food with sufficient amounts of anti-oxidant compounds can play a role in the prevention of cancer, peanuts stand apart in their ability to reduce stomach cancer risk. Peanuts possess numerous compounds known as polyphenols, many of which are anti-oxidants. Of particular interest, however, is one name p-coumaric acid, a compound that reduces the formation of toxic nitrogen based compounds in the stomach, known as nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are common by-products made from consumption of smoked meats and are a staple made from the nitrates found in many preserved types of meat.
- Contribute To A healthy Pregnancy – During pregnancy, general nutritional requirements increase significantly, with specific nutrients being in even higher demand. Among these are folic acid, which is needed for prevention of neural tube defects, avoiding spina bifida and for development of the nervous system and brain of the fetus. Folic acid can be obtained from other foods as well, but peanuts offer a unique advantage not possessed by any other food. This is helping to prevent peanut allergies.
- Rich in Energy – Peanuts contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and anti-oxidants and thus are rich energy sources (22).
- Cholesterol – It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the body (23). Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid that prevents coronary diseases.
- Growth – Peanuts are rich in proteins. The amino acids present in them are good for proper growth and development of body (24).
- Fights Stomach Cancer – Poly-phenolic anti-oxidants are present in the peanuts in high concentrations. P-Coumaric acid has the ability to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the productions of carcinogenic nitrous-amines (25).
- Fights against Nerves Diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Infections – A poly-phenolic anti-oxidant, Resveratrol present in peanuts prevent heart diseases, cancers, nervous diseases, and viral or fungal infections efficiently (26).
- Reduces the Chances of Stroke – The anti-oxidant, Resveratrol in peanuts prevents heart strokes by increasing the production of nitric oxide (27).
- Anti-oxidants – Peanuts contain anti-oxidants in high concentrations (28). These anti-oxidants become more active when peanuts are boiled. There is a 2-fold increase in Biochanin-A and the 4-fold increase in Genistein content. These reduce the damage done by free radicals produced in the body.
- Protects Skin – Vitamin E in peanuts helps in maintaining the integrity of cells of mucous membrane and the skin. This protects them from free radicals which cause great damage (29).
- Vitamins – Peanuts contain B complex, vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, pantothenic acid etc (30).
- Minerals – Potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc are some of the minerals present in peanuts. These play an important role in many different body functions (31).
- Low Risk of Weight Gain – Women who eat peanuts or peanut butter at least twice a week are less likely to be susceptible to obesity than those who don’t. If you eat peanut butter every morning with bread slices, you have fewer chances of gaining weight (32).
- Colon Cancer – Peanuts can reduce colon cancer, especially in women. Eating at least 2 spoons of peanut butter twice a week can reduce the risk of colon cancer in women by up to 58% and in men by up to 27%. This is one of the best benefits of peanuts for women (33).
- Helps in Fertility – If taken before and during early pregnancy, the folic acid lowers the risk of the baby being born with serious neural tube defects reduced by up to 70% (34).
- Regulates Blood Sugar – Manganese in peanuts helps in calcium absorption, fats, and carbohydrates metabolism and sugar level regulation in the blood (35).
- Fights Depression – Low Serotonin levels lead to depression. Tryptophan in peanuts increases the release of this chemical and thus helps you fight depression (36). Eating peanut benefits health in many ways and you should make it a point to take in a minimum of two tablespoons of peanut butter each week in order to keep those dangerous diseases away and stay healthy!
- The anti-inflammatory properties – peanuts treat skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema. The fatty acids present in peanuts also reduce swelling and skin redness. Peanuts contain Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium, which keeps the skin glowing from within and fights the bacteria that lead to acne. The protein content in peanuts also helps with cell regeneration (37).
- Peanuts contain a relatively good amount of fatty acids – which is believed to be critical to the brain’s nerve cells. This brain-friendly cell helps with stress management and mood swings to prevent various skin disorders like wrinkles, fine line, and dullness.
- The fiber in nuts is essential for the elimination of toxins and waste – Toxins inside the body reflect on our outside appearance, causing breakout, dullness and excess oil. Eating peanuts regularly helps flush out excess toxins from the body to give you a healthy skin (38).
- Peanut is loaded with magnesium (19) which calms our nerve – muscles and blood vessels to provide better blood flow to the skin. This, in turn, gives you a youthful and healthy skin.
- Skin damage occurs as a result of oxidation – a chemical process in which unstable molecules called free radicals to steal electrons from healthy cells. Vitamin E in peanuts defends our skin’s cells against the damage of oxidative stress. It guards our skin against the harsh UV rays of the sun to protect against sunburn and skin damage (39).
- Signs of aging like wrinkles – discoloration and decreased elasticity are one of our biggest beauty concerns. Peanut contains the significant amount of Vitamin C which is required for the production of collagen. Collagen is required to sustain tendons, skin, and cartilage. It provides firmness and elasticity to the skin to keep it young and supple.
- Beta-carotene – an antioxidant found in peanuts (40) is very critical for skin’s health. It is converted into Vitamin A in the body which helps in the growth and repair of body tissues. Thus peanuts help to heal wounds and bruises at a faster pace.
- Peanuts are packed with omega 3 fatty acids – which help our skin in many ways (41). Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body to prevent skin eruptions. It lowers the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer. It also moisturizes and hydrates the skin from within to treat dry and scaly skin. Peanuts are very effective for treating skin problems like pustules, skin rashes and rosacea.
- Peanut butter facial mask – is gaining immense popularity these days. Applying natural peanut butter on the face clears away the dirt and impurities to give you a healthy looking skin. Wash your face with a cleanser and then apply peanut butter on your entire face. Allow the mask to dry and then wash it off by massaging your skin slowly in circular motions. Rinse your face with warm water and pat dry. Do a patch test first and then apply it to the entire face as allergic reactions are very common side effects of peanuts. Those who are allergic to peanuts should stay away from it (42).
- Peanuts for best hair – contain several hair-friendly nutrients that are beneficial for maintaining healthy hair. It contains a high level of omega 3 fatty acids which strengthen scalp health and hair follicles to promote hair growth (43).
- Peanut is an excellent source of arginine – an amino acid which is very helpful for treating male pattern baldness and to encourage the growth of healthy hair. It also improves the health of artery walls and prevents blood clotting to improve blood flow. A proper blood flow throughout the body and hair is imperative to get healthy and strong hair.
- Deficiency in vitamin E – can lead to brittle and weak hair which can easily break. Including proper level of vitamin E in your diet ensures that the hair roots receive a rich supply of hair healthy vitamins to keep them strong and healthy.
- 16 Fun Facts about Peanuts & Peanut Butter; Number 13″. US National Peanut Board. 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
- 3. Feed values and feeding potential of major agro-byproducts”. fao.org. Retrieved 25 May 2015.