Peanuts Benefits & Nutritional values

Characteristics of peanuts

  • Rich in unsaturated fatty acids;
  • Source of vegetable protein;
  • High calorie content;
  • Protects the cardiovascular system;
  • Contains allergenic substances.

 Nutritional and caloric values ​​of peanuts

What is a “portion” of peanut worth?
Weight / volumeDry roasted peanuts, 37 gRoasted peanuts in oil, 34 gNatural peanut butter, 32g
Calories217196184
Protein8.8 g8.9 g7.5 g
Carbohydrates8.0 g6.4 g6.8 g
Lipids18.4 g16.6 g15.6 g
-saturated2.6 g2.3 g2.2 g
-monounsaturated9.1 g8.3 g7.8 g
-polyunsaturated5.8 g5.3 g4.9 g
-Omega 30 g0 g0g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg0 mg
Dietary fiber3.0 g2.5 g2.5 g

Peanuts are a real cocktail of vitamins and minerals essential for the functioning of the body. Among the nutrients that characterize it, we can mention the following: 

  • Zinc: Oil-roasted peanuts are an excellent source of zinc for women and a good source for men, as their needs are different. Dry roasted peanuts are a good source. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in wound healing and in fetal development. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (manufacture), storage and release of insulin;
  • Manganese: Peanuts are an excellent source of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals;
  • Copper:   Peanuts are an excellent source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals;
  • Vitamin B3: Peanuts are an excellent source of vitamin B3. Also called niacin, this vitamin participates in many metabolic reactions and particularly contributes to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the process of DNA formation, allowing normal growth and development;
  • Phosphorus: peanuts are a good source of phosphoru. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes;
  • Magnesium: Dry roasted peanuts are a good source of magnesium. Peanuts roasted in oil are a good source for women and a source for men, as their needs are different. Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses;
  • Vitamin E: Dry roasted peanuts are a good source of vitamin E. Oil roasted peanuts are a source. A major antioxidant, vitamin E protects the membrane that surrounds the cells of the body, in particular red blood cells and white blood cells (cells of the immune system);
  • Potassium: Dry roasted peanuts are a source of potassium. In the body, it is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus promoting digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart, and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses;
  • Iron: peanuts are a source of iron for humans. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses);
  • Selenium: Dry roasted peanuts are a source of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps convert thyroid hormones into their active form;
  • Vitamin B1: Peanuts are a source of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, this vitamin is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we ingest. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth;
  • Pantothenic Acid: Peanuts are a source of pantothenic acid. Also known as vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately utilize the energy found in the foods we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin;
  • Vitamin B6: Peanuts are a source of vitamin B6. This vitamin, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes which participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It also helps to make red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the conversion of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors;
  • Folate: Peanuts are a source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the manufacture of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus;
  • Dietary fiber: peanuts are a source of fiber. Dietary fibers, which are found only in plant products, include a set of substances that are not digested by the body. In addition to preventing constipation and lowering the risk of colon cancer, a diet high in fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease, control type 2 diabetes, and improve appetite. Remember that it is recommended to consume 25 g of fiber per day for women aged 19 to 50, and 38 g per day for men of the same age group.

Peanuts and weight gain: a myth denied

Many people tend to limit their consumption of peanuts for fear that their high calorie content could cause weight gain. However, studies have shown that incorporating regular consumption of peanuts into the usual diet has relatively little risk of weight gain. This could be explained by a feeling of fullness and an increase in metabolism following the consumption of peanuts. In addition, a diet containing peanuts could lead to additional excretion of fat in the stool. Indeed, up to 20% of fatty acids from a diet containing nuts are excreted in the stool and not absorbed.

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 The benefits of peanuts

Due to its astonishing composition, peanuts are a real health ally when they are incorporated in moderation into a varied and balanced diet. It would participate, among other things, in protecting the cardiovascular system and preventing certain chronic pathologies. 

Peanut and cardiovascular protection

Epidemiological studies link regular consumption of peanuts with lower blood cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 30-week clinical study on the effect of regular peanut consumption demonstrated improvement in several blood parameters favorable to cardiovascular health, such as blood levels of magnesium, folate, vitamin E, copper and arginine (an amino acid). In addition, the fats in peanuts are mainly “good fats” for cardiovascular health (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Additionally, peanuts contain phytosterols, compounds similar in structure to cholesterol in animal products, but which have been shown to benefit cardiovascular health. Peanut butter contains about 50 mg of phytosterols per 32 g (2 tbsp) serving, and dry roasted peanuts can contain about 42 mg per 37 g (60 ml) serving. A meta-analysis of 41 clinical trials found that taking 2 g per day of phytosterols reduced LDL (“bad” cholesterol) cholesterol levels by 10%: this reduction could reach 20% in the context of a weak diet. in saturated fat and cholesterol. This amount of 2 g per day is practically impossible to achieve through food alone. It is for this reason that products enriched with phytosterols, such as margarine, have appeared on the market. Even though they are present in very small amounts, phytosterols naturally present in food remain interesting for cardiovascular health.

Finally, resveratrol is another compound in peanuts that has been shown to be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease. When peanuts come into contact with certain microorganisms, the production of resveratrol becomes very high, but a study nonetheless detected it up to 1.79 µg / g in various American peanuts that had no contact with microorganisms. -organisms. This amount compares to that of some grapes, but remains lower than that of wine, a very high source of resveratrol. Peanut resveratrol, however, has not yet been extensively studied in humans.

An anticancer food?

A prospective study, although with some limitations, associated eating two or more servings of peanuts per week with a lower risk of colorectal cancer in women. Peanuts also contain certain compounds that are potentially beneficial in preventing cancer. These include phytosterols: in vitro and animal studies have shown them the ability to decrease the growth of cancer cells in the breast, colon and prostate. In humans, phytosterols are associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. As mentioned earlier, peanuts also contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that is believed to have the ability to turn into an anti-cancer compound called piceatannol. This transformation would be done by an enzyme contained precisely in cancerous tumors. However, further studies are needed to further analyze all of these peanut compounds in relation to cancer prevention.                                                                                                                                                                         

Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

A large epidemiological study has shown that frequent consumption of peanut butter (at least 5 tablespoons per week) is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women. Several reasons have been put forward for these benefits, such as the fiber and magnesium content, two elements considered beneficial in the prevention of diabetes.

Prevention of gallstones

Epidemiological studies have linked regular consumption of peanuts with a decreased risk of gallstones in men and the risk of gallbladder removal in women. These effects could be attributable to the various beneficial compounds of blood lipids, such as “good fats” (mono and polyunsaturated), dietary fibers, phytosterols or even magnesium.

A word from the nutritionist

Dry roasted peanuts are sometimes higher in fat than those fried in oil (the latter are usually sold as “roasted peanuts”). They are also often richer in sodium. Be careful, therefore, to read the labels carefully.

 How to choose the right peanut?

The peanut has a small fruit well known as the peanut. This oilseed rich in lipids comes from an annual plant with yellow flowers that measures between 20cm and 1m in height. It stands out from other nuts thanks to its particular ovoid shape, and thanks to its generous and unique taste. 

Peanut ID card

  • Family: legumes;
  • Origin: South America;
  • Season: September / October;
  • Color: brown;
  • Flavor: sweet and oily;

Peanut butter

Industrial products usually contain salt, chemical preservatives, flavorings and added sugars. In addition, to preserve their stability, they are added hydrogenated oils (source of trans fat). There are natural butters on the market simply made from crushed peanuts. Many grocery stores also have electric mills to make butter from peanuts sold in bulk. Note that, in natural peanut butter, it is not uncommon for the oil to rise to the surface, a normal phenomenon that can be corrected by stirring everything with a knife. Once started, natural peanut butter will only keep for a week or two at room temperature, but two months in the refrigerator. Peanut butter first appeared on the American market in 1890.

Peanut oil

Commercial peanut oil is generally hot extracted using a chemical solvent, then deodorized, bleached, ultrafiltered. It may contain chemical preservatives (BHT, BHA). Inexpensive, it is the one found in all grocery stores. Cold-pressed peanut oil is rare in Quebec, but it is found in France where it is pressed from roasted beans, which gives it a flavor appreciated in cooking. Decanted and filtered, it is then bottled in an opaque container to keep all the nutritional properties and aroma. It does not undergo any other transformation. As for organic peanut oil, it is expensive to produce, so much so that it is rarely found in Quebec. Peanuts are unique among legumes,

Preserving the peanut 

  • Roast: in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator. Shelled, three months; in its hull, nine months.
  • Raw: in an airtight container, three months in the refrigerator, six months in the freezer;
  • Natural peanut butter (without chemical preservatives): once started, a week or two at room temperature, two months in the refrigerator;
  • Peanut Oil: Refined oil can be stored indefinitely at room temperature.

 How to prepare peanuts

In cooking, peanuts are one of the essential ingredients. For lovers of world cuisine, it brings a little taste of travel to even the simplest dishes. Moreover, it is in African, American and Asian kitchens that peanuts are most present, for our greatest pleasure. 

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Make your homemade roasted peanuts

Commercial peanuts are usually roasted, whether shelled or in shell. However, you can prepare raw peanuts yourself:

  • Toast: Arrange in a single row on a metal baking sheet and roast for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven set to 175 ° C (350 ° F). Then season them with salt, garlic salt, grated Parmesan, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, dried and ground herbs, or any other spice of your choice;
  • Porridge:
  • when boiled in water, they acquire a soft texture that other cooking methods do not allow. Eat them as is as a snack or add them to soups, salads, stews, etc. They are a great alternative to the water chestnuts used in Chinese cuisine. They will first be soaked overnight in water before cooking them over very low heat for eight to ten hours. Add water as needed. In Africa, they are boiled with chili, which is supposed to make them more digestible.

Remove skin from peanuts easily

To remove the skin from raw peanuts, they can be blanched or roasted for three to five minutes in the oven, or frozen overnight. In all cases, we will then rub them between the hands.

Cooking peanuts in all their forms

Whole, pounded, ground or transformed into a paste, peanuts are suitable for many culinary preparations. Thanks to its high protein content, it can replace, in whole or in part, meat or fish, as is commonly done in Asia and Africa. 

  • Mexican chicken. Cook the chicken, cut into pieces, in a sauce composed of tomatoes, peanuts, garlic, onion, chicken broth, cinnamon and chili (these ingredients are first passed in a blender);
  • Satay sauce. In Indonesia and Malaysia, this sauce usually accompanies meat or shrimp skewers, but nothing prevents it from being used to season skewers of vegetables (tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplants, mushrooms) and tofu. Brown the peanuts in the oil and put them in a blender or crush them. Cook them with water, sugar or honey, and a chili paste mixed with salt, shallots and garlic. You can also use peanut butter to make the sauce and replace the homemade chili paste with a store-bought sambal (Indonesian hot sauce).
  • Embellished with grated coconut and lemon juice, the satay sauce season the gado-gado salad, made with boiled potatoes, as well as barely blanched vegetables so that they keep all their crunch: carrots, green beans, cauliflower, bean sprouts. Served on lettuce leaves with cucumber slices and sliced ​​hard-boiled eggs;
  • Rempeyek kacang. These traditional Southeast Asian pancakes accompany rice and curry or can be enjoyed as an aperitif. To prepare them, cut peanuts in half (along the dividing line between the two halves), put them in a bowl and cover them with a dough having the consistency of a pancake batter and which is made of milk. coconut, water, rice flour and corn flour, spice paste (garlic, shallots, turmeric, coriander seeds and, if found, lime leaves). Cook peanut-pancake mixture in oil, one spoonful at a time, until peanuts are lightly browned;
  • Couscous mboum. This African dish is prepared with fresh fish and dried fish cooked for half an hour in water. At the same time, cabbage leaves are cooked (if desired, take one of the many varieties of Chinese cabbage) for half an hour in steam or in water. Crush peanuts and pass them through a sieve. Grind the peanut residue with the onion. Cook for an hour, cabbage, onion and peanut paste, sifted peanut flour, fish stripped of its bones and a small hot pepper. Serve with couscous, millet if possible;
  • The gnama-gnama of Senegal. This generic word designates the sweets that can be found at any time in the cities of Senegal. Itinerant vendors offer them at the corner of a street or in front of shops. The most common is roasted peanuts without oil in the sand.

Traveling in Asia with peanuts 

  • Spring rolls. Spread a sauce made from honey mustard, peanut butter, Hoisin sauce, chili sauce, lime juice and grated ginger in the center of a rice cake. Top the sauce with chicken strips, chopped green onion, sliced ​​celery, bean sprouts and chopped roasted peanuts. Roll the pancake into a cylinder, cut in half and serve;
  • Thai dishes. In Thailand, unsalted and chopped peanuts are added to curry dishes made with coconut milk. They are also served as an aperitif by placing them on a plate with various other ingredients: grated and oven-roasted coconut, finely chopped green onions, peeled lime wedges, grated ginger, small dried shrimps, small hot peppers. The guests stuff a leaf of lettuce or another plant with the ingredients of their choice and close it to make a bite that they dip in a sauce made from the same ingredients passed through a blender.

 Contraindications and allergies to peanuts

There are some contraindications to peanut consumption. Indeed, peanuts are one of the main known allergens. Particular care should therefore be taken in cases of sensitivity, as peanut allergy can be very serious if not treated in time. In addition, its oxalate content means that it is not recommended for urinary stones. 

Peanut allergy

Peanuts are on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) list of major allergens. Peanut allergy can be serious and a small amount can lead to anaphylactic shock. People with allergies should eliminate from their diet any product containing peanuts or whose label indicates a possibility of containing them. They should also avoid peanut oil since it can contain protein particles, which are the cause of the allergy. In addition, it is considered prudent to refrain from consuming nuts in general (nuts and oilseeds), since these also have a high allergenic potential and they are often handled and distributed by companies specializing in nuts. peanuts.

Oxalates and urinary stones 

Some people may be advised to eat a diet restricted in oxalates to prevent recurrence of kidney stones or urinary tract stones (also called urolithiasis). Oxalates are compounds that are found naturally in many foods, including peanuts. It is therefore preferable that these people avoid consuming it.

Watch out for toxins 

Peanuts can be contaminated with a mold invisible to the naked eye that produces a carcinogenic toxin called aflatoxin. Although the CFIA monitors the levels of aflatoxin in foods that may contain it, it remains prudent to avoid the consumption of stained, blackened, rancid or moldy peanuts.

 History and anecdotes

A little history 

The term “arachide”, which appeared in the French language at the end of the 18th century, comes from the Latin arachidna, borrowed from the Greek arakidna or arakos, which originally referred to “gesse”, another legume (relative of sweet peas) that looks like peanut. 

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The term “peanut” appeared at the beginning of the 19th century. It comes from the Spanish cacahuate, borrowed from Nahuatl, tlacucahuatl, which literally means “ground cocoa”, cocoa also being a plant of South American origin.

In Europe, “peanut”, which is also found under the spelling “cacahouète” and “cacahouette”, prevails, while in Quebec, “peanut” is preferred. We also sometimes write “pinotte”, Frenchization of the English peanut.

A controversial origin? 

It was long thought, and some still claim, that peanuts came both from South America and Asia, but the hypothesis of a strictly South American origin seems to make today the unanimity among researchers. It would have been domesticated 2000 years or 3000 years before our era by the predecessors of the Arawak Indians living in the fertile valleys of Paraguay, before spreading to the southwest and the northeast of Brazil as well as to Bolivia, where many species, including its presumed ancestor A. monticola, still grow in the wild. On the other hand, A. hypogeae is only found in the cultivated state, an indication of the great advancement of pre-Columbian societies, which mastered the selection and improvement of plants intended for their food.

From South America, it went up to Mexico and the Caribbean. After the conquest of America, the Spanish introduced it to Europe, as well as to the Philippines, China, Southeast Asia and Madagascar, while the Portuguese established it in Africa.

Like many other plants of South American origin, it will only reach North America after having made a long detour through Europe and Africa, traveling with the slaves brought by boat from the continent. black. Even today, in the United States, we cultivate varieties that were bred by Africans.

The Americans will first be content to feed peanuts to their pigs, chickens and turkeys. Things will change during the civil war when the need to provide the troops with nutritious and inexpensive food will push to cultivate it for their use, then for that of the population in general.

Today, peanuts are produced in all the tropics and south-tropics of the world. Due to its slow growth in cool climates, it is not very suitable for cultivation in the North, although small quantities are produced in southern Ontario.

An oil widely used in cooking is also obtained from peanuts, as well as proteins and protein isolates, flour and semolina which are used to enrich a multitude of industrial preparations. Finally, we make peanut butter.

Groundnuts on the garden side

The peanut has this unique characteristic that it blooms above the ground, but produces its fruits underground. Once pollinated, the peanut flower loosely takes the shape of a stake and drops down to the ground to sink into it while remaining attached to the plant by its stem. The fruit grows in the ground taking its characteristic shape.

Due to its climatic requirements, peanuts can hardly be grown in temperate climates, although a few stubborn growers manage to get a small harvest with careful care and a lot of elbow grease. However, the plant can be grown in a pot. At best, it will give a few pods, at worst, we will have a very beautiful ornamental plant which will give pretty flowers.

  • Raw peanuts can be purchased from grocery stores or health food stores.
  • Soak them overnight in water.
  • Sow three or more pods (three, for a 15cm pot, more in a larger container) 3cm deep in good potting soil (a mixture of sand, compost and vermiculite). The bigger and deeper the pot, the more likely you are to have peanuts.
  • Keep the pot at temperatures of 18 ° C and above (ideally 25 ° C).
  • The seeds should germinate after five to eight days.
  • Put the pot in a sunny and warm place and, as soon as the weather permits, take it outside, keeping it in a place protected from the wind and cold. Avoid letting the soil dry out in the pot.
  • After 30 days the first flowers should appear and after 3 months the first peanuts.

Peanuts and the environment 

Did you know ? In Burkina Faso, in collaboration with NGOs, farmers have developed the technique of “bunds”, which consists of surrounding fields with low stone walls to block the passage of rainwater and reduce soil erosion. Where we used to harvest a bag of peanuts, we now harvest two. In addition to

the water, the bunds retain the soil and the compost which, previously, left with the runoff of water.

In Senegal, as in the other countries of the Sahel, the ecological situation continues to deteriorate. On the one hand, the soils are becoming impoverished and, on the other hand, the forested area is constantly decreasing, which will lead to a total disappearance of the forest cover in a short time if no action is taken.

Without being the only cause of this situation, the expansion of the groundnut monoculture, which today occupies more than 40% of cultivated land, plays an important role. This expansion, which took place to the detriment of the forest and traditional food crops (including sorghum and millet), led to the abandonment of cultivation practices that made it possible to preserve the plant cover, and had the effect of increase the phenomenon of erosion in the region. There is an increase in the number of wasteland and sand dunes. The water table is falling, wells are drying up and sandstorms are more frequent. As for the productivity, it does not stop falling, which pushes the farmers to increase the density of their seedlings to obtain a satisfactory harvest. It is an advantageous short-term solution,

To combat the problem, a vast program has been set up across the whole country to sensitize farmers and encourage them to adopt solutions that are less damaging to the environment: reforestation of part of the plots that were devoted to farming. ‘peanuts, plantation of windbreaks around fields, construction of improved stoves to save firewood and cultivation of plants that are less demanding on the soil, especially potatoes, twenty times more productive than peanuts on a daily basis.


References

  • Toussaint-Samat Maguelonne. Natural and moral history of food, Bordas, France, 1987.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. Research Project: Peanut Allerginicity As Affected by End Products Produced During Roasting. Agriculture Research Service. Ars.usda.gov [Accessed December 17, 2004]. www.ars.usda.gov
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Data from GRIN Taxonomy: Arachis. Germplasm Resources Information Network – (GRIN), [Accessed December 15, 2004]. www.ars-grin.gov
  • University of Georgia, Peanut CRSP. World Geography of the Peanut. Sustainable Human Ecosystems Laboratory, Dpt of Anthropology. Lanra.anthro.uga.edu [Accessed December 17, 2004]. http://lanra.anthro.uga.edu
  • Virginia-Carolina Peanuts.Aboutpeanuts.com [Accessed December 15, 2004]. www.aboutpeanuts.com