Peanuts, also known as ‘goober pea’, ‘earth nuts’, ‘ground nuts’ and ‘mungfali’, is being peddled as one of the healthiest nuts in the market today. Earlier shunned away due to its high fat and sodium content, more and more studies are now being published highlighting the health benefits associated with regular consumption of them. Its unique chemical composition allows it to be processed into a variety of different forms including butter, oil, flour and flakes. Consumed widely across contents; peanuts are cheap, healthy, more easily available and definitely here to stay.
Botanically speaking, peanuts are legumes not nuts, and are therefore related to beans, soy and lentils. They start out as yellow flowers, which after self-pollination develop into ovaries that droop downwards and eventually into the ground. Several inches underneath the soil, the fruit matures into the peanut we know. Indigenous to the southern parts of America and Mexico, peanuts were brought to the African continent by Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Today it is commercially grown in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and the United States of America.
Peanuts are a rich plant based source of proteins, vitamins, minerals and plant based compounds;
Diabetes and Obesity: Peanuts are high in dietary fiber, low in carbohydrates (GI) and high in protein, making them the perfect snack for those suffering from diabetes and / or looking to manage their weight. They leave you feeling full for longer and inversely cut down one’s intake of junk foods in the form of snacks. They are gluten free and vegan making them universally viable.
Hearth Health & Gallstones: Peanuts are filled with essential natural occurring monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These help in lowering levels of bad cholesterol, improve nerve function and insulin sensitivity, as well as aid muscle regeneration. Studies suggest that women consuming peanuts on a regular basis are 25% less likely to suffer from gallstones than those who rarely consume it.
Vitamin & Mineral Source: Peanuts are a rich source copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron; all needed to maintain a healthy body and mind. It also has high levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin B’s, Folate, as well as antioxidants like Niacin, Thiamin and Biotin which help in treating illness like cancer and multiple sclerosis.
When improperly dried and stored in humid conditions, peanuts are susceptible to moulds and fungal invasions, the most infamous being aflatoxin. It is known carcinogen and said to cause jaundice, mental retardation and in some extreme cases liver failure. Millions of children across the globe suffer from a naturally acquired extreme intolerance to peanuts. This number grows with every year that goes by, forcing those in the field of medicine to constantly look for solutions to this growing epidemic.
Studies published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, two Harvard led studies: “The Nurses’ Health Study” and “Harvard Profession Follow-up Study”, and many such more have all backed the premises that peanuts, although not nuts, are nutritionally at par to tree nuts. These studies have been conducted over a wide spectrum to include different races, age groups, as well as factors like lifestyle, smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. All studies suggest that those who ate peanuts (and other nuts) have an increased life expectancy and are substantially less like to die of causes like heart ailments.
- Peanuts, The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=101
- Children who eat peanuts at an early age may prevent peanut allergies by Gregory Curfman, 23rd February 2015, Harvard Health Blog, Home, Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/children-eat-peanuts-early-age-may-prevent-peanut-allergies-201502237751
- Peanuts linked to same heart, longevity benefits as more pricey nuts by Daniel Pendick, 5th March, 2015, Harvard Health Blog, Home, Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/peanuts-linked-heart-longevity-benefits-pricey-nuts-201503057777
- Benefits of Nuts: Eating 10 Grams of Nuts and Peanuts A Day owers Death Risk of Major Causes by Lecia Bushak, 11th June, 2015, Vitality, Medical Daily. http://www.medicaldaily.com/benefits-nuts-eating-10-grams-nuts-and-peanuts-day-lowers-death-risk-major-causes-337576