We use phrase ‘peanuts’ to associate with little value or little money. We say ‘it means peanuts to me’, or ‘it costs peanuts’ or ‘working for peanuts’. But definitely health benefits of peanuts should not mean peanuts to you.
Peanuts or commonly known as groundnuts are leguminous plant. They are also popularly known as goober nut or goober pea, monkey nut or pig nuts. Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) plant bear flowers which bends and grounds itself by weight and matures into a fruit or nut. Botanically peanuts are similar to pea, lentils, chickpeas or other legumes but very similar in properties like almonds, cashews and other nuts; hence the name peanut.
Often termed poor man’s nut for the rich nutrients it supplies. 100 grams of Peanuts would offer almost same amount of energy, carbohydrate, fats and protein as same amount of almonds. Peanuts also supplies body good amount of dietary fiber, potassium, copper, manganese, biotin, Vitamin B3, vitamin E and folate.
Peanuts are popular source of vegetable oil in India and many other countries. This small nut can be enjoyed raw, boiled, roasted or fried. It is often processed as peanut oil, peanut flour or peanut protein. Peanuts find its use in variety of foods including snacks, desserts and confectionery. Nutritional profile of peanuts changes rapidly with time due to its fat content. It turns rancid and tastes bad when stored longer.
Health benefits of peanuts
Peanuts are often avoided due to their high fat content, but recent studies have highlighted it as all natural health food. Here are some of the health benefits of groundnuts:
1. Skin benefits of peanuts
Groundnut offers various vitamins and minerals essential for the health of the skin. Vitamin E from peanuts helps maintain mucus membranes in body. With strong antioxidant property it protects skin from damage caused by UV rays, heat and pollution. It also helps in reducing signs of aging like wrinkles and blemishes. It offers body supplies of Omega 3 fatty acids which helps reduce skin inflammation, reduces risks of skin cancer and moisturizes the skin. Peanuts help reduce inflammatory diseases like psoriasis and eczema. Dietary fibers in peanuts help in flushing toxins from body and helps reduces skin eruptions, acnes and pimples. Peanut butter face mask is often used as skin cleansing mask to clean skin from dirt and impurities.
[Read more about benefits of almonds]
2. Peanuts good for hair
Omega 3 fatty acids in groundnut helps keep scalp and hair follicle strong and promote hair growth. Similarly, larginie, an amino acid present in peanuts helps prevent hair loss, improve blood circulation in scalp and helps hair growth. Vitamin E deficiency often leads to brittle and weak hair. Groundnuts, which have ample Vitamin E, provide hair strength.
3. Peanuts for memory
Groundnuts with ample Vitamin B3 are good brain food. It helps boost memory and brain functioning. Regular consumption of peanuts is helpful in improving memory and cognitive skills. According to the research, regular intake of niacin rich food like groundnut provides protection against Alzheimer’s disease and age related cognitive decline.
[Read more about benefits of walnuts]
4. Peanuts fights depression
Peanuts are good source of amino acid Tryptophan, which helps production of Serotonin – ‘happiness chemical’ in body. Serotonin is a chemical nerve transmitter that helps regulate various brain functions like mood, pain, appetite and sleep. It helps fight depression and improves mood. It also helps in treating insomnia, migraine and other pain condition.
5. Peanuts regulate blood sugar
Peanuts have ample dietary fibers that help regulate blood sugar. It has low GI and releases sugar in blood slowly. It also contains good amount of manganese which plays important role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Further low magnesium is linked to high diabetic risk, with excellent supply of magnesium peanuts help reduce risk of diabetes. Snacking on peanuts can help to maintain blood sugar in between meals. Studies have confirmed the inverse relationship between consumption of nuts and risk of type 2 diabetes.
[Read more about foods that are good for your nails]
6. Peanuts and cancer prevention
Groundnuts contain a form of pytosterol called beta-sitosterol that is believed to protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. It also contains antioxidants which protects body cells from free radicals which may cause cancerous growth. Studies have showed tis ability to reduce stomach cancer and colon cancer.
7. Peanuts aid digestion
As groundnuts are rich in dietary fibre, it helps digestion. It allows proper functioning of digestive system and metabolism.
8. Peanuts lower risk of heart disease
As we know groundnuts contain monounsaturated and poly saturated fatty acid, it keeps the heart healthy by lowering the blood cholesterol and thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart diseases. Groundnut also contain anti oxidants which not only protects the heart but also inhibits the growth of free radicals.
[Read more about 13 Macadamia nut benefits]
9. Lowers weight gain
By regularly eating groundnuts, we can decrease the chance of gaining weight. Surprise! Yes, research has shown that those who eat groundnuts atleast twice a week are less likely to gain weight than those who do not eat them at all. Obesity is the great concern for the women, so there is one of the way to keep it at bay. Also groundnuts are high satisfy food, that they make us feel fuller for longer period. The satisfy nature of groundnuts are not solely due to their fat content, fibre content or protein content, but also due to the combined effect of all nutrients.
10. Promotes fertility
Groundnuts contain good amount of folate. Studies have shown that women whose daily intake of folate is 400 micrograms before and during early pregnancy, reduces their risk of having baby with some neural tube defect. As vitamins are present in groundnuts in higher amount, it provides vital health for tissues and cells and fights infection which in turn keep the foetus healthy. It also reduces birth defects and anemia related conditions.
[Read more about healthy ways to gain weight]
11. Protein source
Peanuts come from legume family and are excellent source of proteins. A 100 gms of groundnuts contain about 28gms of proteins. Protein is very important as it forms the base for all enzymes and also digested to form aminoacids. They are also required for the normal functioning of endocrine glands.
Side effects of peanuts
Peanuts are potential source of allergens and known to cause food allergy to many. Excessive intake of peanuts may lead to indigestion, hyperacidity or headache. Peanuts are source of oxalates and in excess combined with calcium may cause stones in urinary tract. Peanuts are susceptible to contamination of aflatoxin produced by fungal growth. Raw groundnut with different appearance should be avoided.
This poor man’s nut offers body with essential nutrients and aids various body functions. It makes itself strong contender for healthy food to be included in our daily diet.