Peanuts: Your Local Superfood
Peanuts aren't just a nut you pop in for fun, but instead are an excellent source of nutrients and functional compounds. They can be used for weight management and a range of other lifestyle conditions. They possess several beneficial characteristics that earn them a superior position on the health ladder.
Peanuts are also known as groundnuts, and India is the second largest producer of peanuts in the world. Although a legume, peanuts are usually considered oilseeds due to their high oil content. Peanuts are rich in protein, oil, and fibre and boast a wealthy nutritional profile, making them a valuable food for good health.
Peanut nutrients can be described as follows:
Fat: Peanuts contain 50 % monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and 14 % saturated fatty acids, which is a heart-friendly combination of fatty acids.
Proteins: Since they are legumes, peanuts have more protein than any other nut. They contain all the essential amino acids required for health and are nutritionally equivalent to meat and eggs for human growth. Since the proteins in peanuts are plant-based, they carry additional components like fibre and unique bioactive components, unlike animal proteins.
Fibre: Peanuts are a good source of fibre and keep the blood sugar stabilised so that it does not rise too high too quickly.
Vitamins: Peanuts are a good source of niacin, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and vitamin E.
Niacin is important for the functioning of the digestive system, skin, and nerves, while folate is especially important in pregnancy for the production and maintenance of cells.
Minerals: Nutrients in groundnut include minerals like copper, manganese, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are crucial for the health and proper functioning of the body.
Health Benefits of Peanuts
- Good for heart: Peanuts and its products are more beneficial to heart health when compared to low-fat diets. The health benefits of peanuts are due to their high monounsaturated fat content, which can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Helpful to manage diabetes: Peanuts and other nuts have earned the status of diabetes superfoods. The benefits of eating peanuts are linked to their nutrient content, including fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and E. Peanuts have a low glycemic index, which means they prevent blood sugar from spiking up.
- Can help against malnutrition: Eating a small number of peanuts can provide high energy levels, making them energy-dense snacks. Besides, the micronutrient profile of peanuts benefits the malnourished by making them a good option for improving the nutrition status of those who are developing, growing, or in need of critical nutrients. Peanuts also help in growth, development, and building immunity.
- Excellent source of resveratrol: Peanuts are an excellent source of resveratrol, an antioxidant that has been found to have a protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, tumours, and inflammation. This plant compound is also believed to improve blood flow in the brain, thus reducing the risk of stroke. All parts of the peanut contain resveratrol, including the roots, skin, and even the shell.
- Can help manage blood cholesterol levels: Phytosterols are a group of naturally occurring compounds found in groundnuts. Their structure is similar to the body’s cholesterol, and when they are consumed, they block cholesterol from being absorbed and reduce their levels in the blood. Emerging evidence indicates that they also decrease inflammation.
- Hunger maintenance: Peanut and peanut butter can provide satiety, and improve the feeling of fullness. It can curb the appetites due to its fullness effect.
Uses of peanuts
The uses of groundnut expand over to the several products prepared from it. Peanuts are widely used for the manufacture of peanut oil, butter, confections, and roasted peanuts. Peanut uses also include their role as snack products, extenders in meat product formulation, soups, and desserts.
1. Peanut oil
- Peanut oil contains well-balanced fatty acids and is a good source of antioxidants that can protect against harmful substances, especially free radicals. Groundnut benefits can be incorporated into its oil, which contains cardioprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Peanut oil is stable at high temperatures and has a higher smoke point than other edible oils, which is why it is considered the best frying oil.
- Foods fried in peanut oil have excellent sensory properties like flavour, crispness, and mouth feel as well as a long fry life.
2. Peanut butter
- Peanut butter was used to serve soldiers in the nineteenth century by roasting shelled peanuts in oil and packing the butter in airtight bags.
- When prepared with the skin, the peanut butter has a significantly increased amount of fibre and antioxidant content
- The fat in peanut butter provides healthy calories to malnourished infants and children.
- Peanut butter has three times more resveratrol content in comparison to peanuts as a whole
- Peanut butter is considered a major food source of flavonoids- plant components that deliver several benefits when consumed
3. Peanut Meal
Peanuts uses are not limited to oil and butter, for they are also a crispy snack to munch on and a worthwhile addition to main courses.
- Peanut curry: This can be prepared by adding cooked peanuts to a mixture of ingredients in a kadai, including jeera, chopped green chilli, curry leaves, and onions. Peanut curry serves as a great accompaniment to go with rice.
- Carrot Peanut Thick Soup: A blend of carrots, chopped garlic, and peanuts, you could try this wholesome recipe when you’re craving healthy foods that are easy to prepare!
Peanuts are a great option to increase the nutrient status of an individual, urging one to utilise them to curb diseases and improve health. The benefits of eating peanuts are so many, that you shouldn’t be skipping out on these essential functional foods! What’s more?- they can be used to fight the double burden of malnutrition and obesity, making them a reliable source of important nutrients good for overall health.