Peanuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Health and Nutrition
23.10.2019

Peanut is a legume crop that belongs to the Fabaceae family and its botanical name is Arachis hypogaea. Peanuts are said to have originated in the Central American region and from there spread to other parts of the world (1).

Nutritional facts of peanuts 

Energy dense peanuts

Peanuts are also called groundnuts, are energy dense nuts. They provide about 567 kcals per 100 grams therefore making it a very important food in developing countries where energy malnutrition is high (2). Peanuts contain almost 50 % oil (3). Because it has good amount of oil it is also considered as an oil seed crop.

Peanuts as a good protein source

For vegetarians, peanuts which contain 25 % protein are a valuable source of protein. Protein content of peanuts is comparable to commonly used legumes. Peanuts contain higher amount of protein than most nuts (4).

Peanuts are loaded with minerals

Peanuts are a good source of many minerals such as potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Minerals have several important functions to perform in the body and peanuts can help us not become deficient in these minerals.

Vitamins in peanuts

Peanuts also provide Vitamin E and B vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and folate.  Peanuts are especially good sources of niacin and vitamin E (4). Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant.

 

Dietary fiber in peanuts

Peanuts are a good source of dietary fiber, 8.5 %. Dietary fiber can improve gut health, can help manage blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

 

Health benefits associated with bioactive compounds present in peanuts

Antioxidant activity of peanuts

Peanuts are rich sources of antioxidants such as copper, manganese and selenium. Vitamin E which is a potent anti-oxidant is also present in peanuts. 

Peanuts are excellent source of polyphenol, resveratrol which also exhibits antioxidant activity (4).

Antioxidants present in our diet along with endogenous antioxidants play an important role in the neutralization of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. When the diet lacks nutrient antioxidants, it becomes one of the most important reasons why people get afflicted with chronic and degenerative diseases. Each nutrient has its own unique structure and antioxidant mechanism. 

Arginine in peanuts

One of the highest amounts of arginine containing food is peanut. Arginine is an amino acid that is essential for the health of liver, skin, joints, and muscles. Arginine also boosts the immune system, regulates hormones and blood sugar and may improve circulation of blood (4).

Peanut has a desirable lipid profile

Peanuts have been shown to exhibit heart health benefits because of their desirable lipid profile. Peanut fat content is high in unsaturated fats compared to saturated fat. It does not contain any trans fats or cholesterol. Most of its positive effects are associated with its high oleic acid content (4).

Peanuts can be a boon for the protein and energy malnourished populations

Peanuts are energy dense because they contain almost 50 % fat and they are a good source of protein. Peanuts have 25 % protein. They are also a good source of many minerals and vitamins. Peanuts are loaded with all these nutrients which can help fight energy and protein malnourishment.

Phytonutrients of peanuts

Studies have shown that phytonutrients of peanuts, such as resveratrol, isoflavonoids, phenolic acids, and phytosterols may enhance overall health and wellness. Because of the antioxidant activity of compounds such as resveratrol peanuts may exhibit anti-carcinogenic effect too (4).

Store and transport peanuts under optimum conditions

If storage and transportation conditions are not taken care of according to standards prescribed peanuts are frequently contaminated by the fungal species Aspergillus flavus, which can produce the aflatoxin. These are highly toxic and can cause food poisoning and other deleterious effects. Care has to be taken so that peanuts do not have any aflatoxins.

 

Final word

Peanuts are affordable and are a great source of energy. They are versatile and can be used in various forms for example they can be roasted and consumed, peanut butter/sauce can be made, masala powders and several other products can be made using peanuts.

Peanuts supply protein, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Because of the nutrients and bioactive components present in peanuts they exhibit several health improving properties. Make them a part of your balanced diet on a regular basis.

 

References

 

  1. Settaluri, V. S., Kandala , C. V. K., Puppala , N. and Sundaram, J. (2012) Peanuts and Their Nutritional Aspects—A Review, Food and Nutrition Sciences. Vol. 3.

https://file.scirp.org/pdf/FNS20121200005_45452645.pdf

 

  1. Toomer, O. T. (2018) Nutritional chemistry of the peanut (Arachis hypogaea)Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Vol. 58 (17).

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10408398.2017.1339015

 

  1. United States Department of Agriculture, USDA Food Composition Databases.

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

 

  1. Arya, S.S., Salve, A.R. and Chauhan, S. (2016) Peanuts as functional food: A review. Journal of Food Science and Technology. Vol. 53 (1). 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711439/

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