Hailed as some of the best snack options for either weight loss or a healthy dietary lifestyle, peanuts are the most popular nuts available today. Not only are they usually much easier to access than other nuts and very sustainable for the environment, but they are also incredibly delicious. In today’s article, we are going to shed a light on peanut benefits and how this simple nut has more to offer than many think, including how they could even be a game-changer in your life. Are peanuts benefits worth the hype or is it just a fad and marketing strategy? Can they truly help with weight loss and even improve your heart health? Read on to find out.
Peanuts Nutrition Facts
Other than being an easily accessible and delicious snack or ingredient, these nuts are high in several nutrients that make them exceptionally good for your gut and health.
According to the USDA, 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw peanuts has the following nutrients (25):
- Calories: 159
- Fat: 13.8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4.51 grams
- Fiber: 2.38 grams
- Protein: 7.22 grams
Peanuts also have other important nutrients such as zinc, copper, selenium, thiamin, Riboflavin, as well as vitamin E and B-12. While these vitamins and minerals are not as high as they are in other foods, eating peanuts helps contribute to your daily recommended intake of these very important nutrients:
- Zinc. Helps your immune system and metabolism function.
- Copper. Helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption.
- Selenium. A powerful antioxidant that is known to help prevent mental decline, boost your immune system, and is essential to thyroid health, among other benefits.
- Thiamin. Also known as Vitamin B1, it helps the body turn carbs to fuel via glucose metabolism, and it plays a key role in nerve, muscle, and heart function.
- Riboflavin. Also known as Vitamin B2, it helps the body maintain its energy by assisting in the breakdown of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Vitamin E & B12. The former is a natural antioxidant, while the latter keeps your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy and helps make DNA.
Peanuts Health Benefits
The health benefits of peanuts go above and beyond what is found in the trace elements mentioned above. In their own right, they offer the body much more than being a good source of healthy calories.
Here are some health benefits of peanuts that you can look forward to if you choose to add these nuts to your daily diet:
Improved Heart Health
According to Healthline, peanuts are classified as oilseeds, and their fat content often ranges between 44% to 56%. The best part is that a large part of this fat content is made up of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are good for your heart. Both of these fats are known to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol, which clogs and blocks your arteries; increasing your risk of heart disease
Monounsaturated fatty acids also help maintain your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, which is actually good for your heart. Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which (combined) help reduce triglycerides, reduce the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, lower your blood pressure, and slow the buildup of plaque that can harden and clog your arteries.
High In Antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals, these are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. Free radicals have been linked to multiple chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
When compared to well-known foods like green tea and red wine, peanuts have a higher antioxidant capacity. What’s even more interesting is that research shows that the skins of these nuts have even more antioxidants, and eating peanuts (especially roasted ones) may increase the concentration of the antioxidants in this snack. If you do not want to roast them, boiling them works just as well (21, 7, 20).
Increased Protein Intake Equals Better Health
Many of us are trying to get more protein from plant sources rather than animal sources, and peanuts are a great way to help do that. As a macronutrient protein has some incredible benefits, namely:
- Reduces hunger and increases satiety great for anyone on a weight loss journey.
- Increases muscle mass and strength.
- Maintains bone mass better as you age, which greatly reduces your risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
- Boosts your metabolism since the body has to use more energy to break proteins down as compared to either fats or carbs.
- Lowers blood pressure. A study published in 2010 found that increased protein intake, especially plant protein, may help reduce blood pressure (10).
Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
In 2016, the World Health Organization dubbed obesity as a global pandemic as its survey found that more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, with 650 million of these individuals being obese – a number that tippled in just over four decades. In the year 2000, the number of obese persons had been over 300 million (18, 8).
Since then, the number of overweight and obese persons has continued to increase, and almost everyone is looking to find a way to shed some extra weight. Not only has research shown that a diet with peanuts and other nut variations will not lead to weight gain (13), but as we have seen above, this is a source of protein, which is known to help reduce hunger and boost satiety that can help reduce how many calories you consume in a day; as we all know, less food energy intake (or a calorie deficit) leads to weight loss.
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Reduced Cancer Risk
This legume has unsaturated fats, certain vitamins and minerals, and the bioactive components that have been shown to possibly contain cancer-preventive effects. However, the most powerful arsenal against this illness that peanuts have is phytosterols (5). Research suggests that the phytosterols in peanuts may have a protective role against colon, prostate, and breast cancers (22).
Reduced Mortality Rate
According to an older study published in the year 1992, people who consume nuts regularly were less likely to experience fatal cardiovascular events. This could be due to the link between peanuts and the reduction of risk factors for heart diseases (2).
Peanuts Side Effects
Despite the many and undeniable benefits of eating peanuts, these nuts also have some undesirable effects and disadvantages that everyone should be aware of.
Some side effects of peanuts include:
Too Much Sodium
As seen above, peanuts naturally contain salt, both raw and roasted. However, the amount of sodium is nowhere near the levels that you will find in many pre-packaged salted nuts. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single serving (about 28 g) of roasted and salted peanuts has about 89.6 mg of sodium (23).
Research has shown that a high salt intake is a key risk factor of hypertension (aka high blood pressure) which can further lead to a heart attack, stroke, or even heart failure and death. If this were not bad enough, the consumption of too much salt has been linked to other illnesses, such as kidney diseases, osteoporosis, and even stomach cancer (14, 29, 16, 11, 28).
If you eat salted peanuts, just be aware of your portion sizes and how the sodium from that snack fits in with the rest of the salt you consume during the day. If you can, roast and salt your peanuts yourself, that way you can control how much salt is added.
May Lead To Weight Gain
While weight loss is one of the most known peanut benefits, eating too much of them (or any energy-dense food) can lead to weight gain. Remember that one serving (28 g) of these nuts adds over 150 calories to your daily calorie intake, and eating too many servings will quickly take over your recommended calorie intake for the day. To avoid this, consider tracking your daily calorie intake. By doing this, it lets you make an allowance for a serving (or more) of peanuts without going over your daily recommended food energy intake.
May Lead To Aflatoxin Poisoning
This is probably one of the lesser-known side effects of peanuts and peanut products consumption. According to the National Cancer Institute, aflatoxins are a family of toxins found on agricultural crops, such as maize (corn), peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. These toxins are produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, which spreads abundantly in warm and humid regions of the world.
While most parts of the world can grow and produce peanuts without excessive aflatoxins contamination, research continues to show that because health regulations are not being followed to the letter, some such nuts (and other agricultural crops) in the market today are contaminated (6, 1).
According to the World Health Organization, long-term exposure to these toxins can lead to birth defects and stunted growth in children. They are also known to suppress the immune system that leaves you more vulnerable to infection. Aflatoxins can also be fatal to humans; they are potent carcinogens that affect your liver and kidneys the most. They have been known to cause liver damage and liver cancer – all fatal problems (3).
To avoid this, be aware of where your nuts are grown and research the agricultural practices in the area. Try to buy peanuts from regions where health regulations are strong and contamination is unlikely.
Exposure To Antinutrients
Antinutrients are plant compounds that reduce your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. These plant compounds include lectins, oxalates, phytate (IP6), goitrogens, phytoestrogens, and tannins (15). Failure to absorb the recommended amounts of nutrients in the body leads to illnesses caused by nutrient deficiencies.
The antinutrient found in peanuts is phytic acid. Phytic acid is known to decrease the absorption of the minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, deficiencies which can lead to diseases such as anemia. These phytates are also said to reduce the digestibility of protein (30, 17).
If you eat peanuts in recommended serving sizes and eat an otherwise healthy, balanced, and varied diet, you shouldn’t have a problem.
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Peanut allergy is often referred to as one of the (if not the) deadliest food allergies known to man next to shrimp/seafood allergy, and with good reason due to an increasing health concern. An allergic reaction to peanuts often occurs within minutes and can trigger anaphylaxis, a reaction that can be fatal if not treated right away (19).
Omega Fatty Acid Imbalance
While these nuts are high in omega-6 fatty acids, they lack omega-3 fatty acids – possibly contributing to an imbalance of fatty acids. This imbalance has been linked to increased inflammation that contributes to issues, such as obesity, heart disease, arthritis, and other chronic health problems. Research has further linked this imbalance to an increase in insulin resistance and weight gain (4). To avoid an imbalance, be sure to also include foods in your diet which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and flaxseeds.
The Bottom Line
There is no denying that peanut benefits are truly incredible and that such a small nut can have a really massive impact on your overall health. If you can, make sure to add peanuts in all forms to your diet. You can use them to make things like hummus, pesto, an addition to your bowls, or even as a snack. Just remember to track your intake to avoid going over your calorie budget. But remember that if you have a peanut allergy, please do not try ingesting them.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A Critical Review of Aflatoxin Contamination of Peanuts in Malawi and Zambia: The Past, Present, and Future (2018, apsjournals.apsnet.org)
- A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study (1992, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Aflatoxins (2018, who.int)
- An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity (2016, mdpi.com)
- Anticancer effects of phytosterols (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Assessing Aflatoxin Exposure Risk from Peanuts and Peanut Products Imported to Taiwan (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Controlling the global obesity epidemic (n.d., who.int)
- Development and therapeutic applications of nitric oxide releasing materials to treat erectile dysfunction (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary protein and blood pressure: a systematic review (2010, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Excessive salt consumption appears to be bad for your bones (2013, sciencedaily.com)
- Formation of lipid oxidation and isomerization products during processing of nuts and sesame seeds (2008, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of peanuts and tree nuts on body weight and healthy weight loss in adults (2008, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Impact of Salt Intake on the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Hypertension (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is too much salt harmful? Yes (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Minerals and phytic acid interactions: is it a real problem for human nutrition? (2002, ifst.onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Obesity: another ongoing pandemic (2021, thelancet.com)
- Peanut allergy (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Peanut as a Smart Food and their Nutrients Aspects in Planet: A Review (2004, arccjournals.com)
- Peanut skin procyanidins: Composition and antioxidant activities as affected by processing (2006, sciencedirect.com)
- Peanuts as a source of beta-sitosterol, a sterol with anticancer properties (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Peanuts, roasted, salted (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Peanuts, roasted, unsalted (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Peanuts, unroasted (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Prevalence and concentration of Salmonella on raw shelled peanuts in the United States (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Resveratrol-Based Multivitamin Supplement Increases Sperm Concentration and Motility in Idiopathic Male Infertility: A Pilot Clinical Study (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Salt intake and kidney disease (2002, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Salt: shaking up the link with stomach cancer (2016, wcrf.org)
- The Potential Benefits and Adverse Effects of Phytic Acid Supplement in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Potential Role of Arginine Supplements on Erectile Dysfunction: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis (2019, researchgate.net)
- Trans-resveratrol relaxes the corpus cavernosum ex vivo and enhances testosterone levels and sperm quality in vivo (2008, link.springer.com)
- What are the most eco-friendly nuts? (2015, grist.org)