Peanuts

Nutrition facts and health benefits

Peanuts are a type of nut/legume that are as popular as healthy! This article contains detailed health and nutrition information on peanuts.

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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on June 12, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on May 30, 2022.

Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are a legume that originated in South America.

They go by a variety of names, such as groundnuts, earthnuts, and goobers.

Despite their name, peanuts are unrelated to tree nuts. As a legume, they’re related to beans, lentils, and soy.

In the United States, peanuts are rarely eaten raw. Instead, they are most often consumed roasted or as peanut butter.

Other peanut products include peanut oil, flour, and protein. These goods are used in a variety of foods, such as desserts, cakes, confectionery, snacks, and sauces.

Peanuts are rich in protein, fat, and various healthy nutrients. Studies show that peanuts may even be useful for weight loss and are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

This article tells you everything you need to know about peanuts.

Nutrition facts of peanuts

Here are the nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw peanuts:

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Summary: Peanuts are packed with healthy fats and high-quality protein. They’re also fairly high in calories.

Fat in peanuts

Peanuts are high in fat.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw peanuts contains:

They are classified as oilseeds. A large proportion of the world’s peanut harvest is used for making peanut oil (arachis oil).

The fat content ranges from 44% to 56% and mainly consists of mono- and polyunsaturated fat, most of which is made up of oleic and linoleic acids.

Summary: Peanuts are high in fat, consisting mostly of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are often used to make peanut oil.

Peanut proteins

Peanuts are a good source of protein.

The protein content ranges from 22% to 30% of its total calories, making peanuts a great source of plant-based protein.

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The most abundant proteins in peanuts, arachin, and conarachin, can be severely allergenic to some people, causing life-threatening reactions.

Summary: For a plant food, peanuts are an exceptionally good source of protein. Keep in mind that some people are allergic to peanut protein.

Carbs content of peanuts

Peanuts are low in carbs.

The carb content is only about 13% to 16% of the total weight.

Being low in carbs and high in protein, fat, and fiber, peanuts have a very low glycemic index (GI), which is a measure of how quickly carbs enter your bloodstream after a meal.

This makes them suitable for people with diabetes.

Summary: Peanuts are low in carbs. This makes them a good dietary choice for people with diabetes.

Vitamins and minerals of peanuts

Peanuts are an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals, including:

Summary: Peanuts are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. These include biotin, copper, niacin, folate, manganese, vitamin E, thiamine, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Other plant compounds of peanuts

Peanuts contain various bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants.

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They’re as rich in antioxidants as many fruits.

Most of the antioxidants are located in peanut skin, which is eaten only when peanuts are raw.

That said, peanut kernels still include:

Summary: Peanuts contain various plant compounds. These include antioxidants, such as coumaric acid and resveratrol, as well as antinutrients like phytic acid.

Peanuts and weight loss

Peanuts have been widely studied concerning weight maintenance.

Despite being high in fat and calories, peanuts do not appear to contribute to weight gain.

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Observational studies have shown that peanut consumption may help maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of obesity.

These studies are all observational, which means that they cannot prove causation.

However, one small, 6-month study in healthy women suggested that when other sources of fat in a low-fat diet were replaced with peanuts, they lost 6.6 pounds (3 kg) despite being told to maintain their initial weight.

Another study found that when 3 ounces (89 grams) of peanuts were added to the daily diet of healthy adults for 8 weeks, they did not gain as much weight as expected.

Various factors make peanuts a weight-loss-friendly food:

Summary: Peanuts are very filling and can be considered an effective component of a weight loss diet.

Other health benefits of peanuts

In addition to being a weight-loss-friendly food, peanuts are associated with several other health benefits.

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Heart health

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

Observational studies indicate that eating peanuts, as well as other types of nuts, may protect against heart disease.

These benefits are likely the result of various factors.

Notably, peanuts contain several heart-healthy nutrients. These include magnesium, niacin, copper, oleic acid, and multiple antioxidants, such as resveratrol.

Gallstone prevention

Gallstones affect approximately 10–25% of adults in the United States.

Two observational studies suggest that frequent peanut consumption may cut the risk of gallstones in both men and women.

As most gallstones are largely composed of cholesterol, the cholesterol-lowering effect of peanuts may be the cause.

Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Summary: As a source of many heart-healthy nutrients, peanuts may help prevent heart disease. What’s more, they may cut your risk of gallstones.

Adverse effects and individual concerns

Aside from allergies, eating peanuts has not been linked to many adverse effects.

Still, there are some health concerns to consider.

Aflatoxin poisoning

Peanuts can sometimes be contaminated with a species of mold (Aspergillus flavus) that produces aflatoxin.

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The main symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning include loss of appetite and yellow discoloration of the eyes (jaundice), which are typical signs of liver problems.

Serious aflatoxin poisoning can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

The risk of aflatoxin contamination depends on how peanuts are stored. The risk increases with warm and humid conditions, especially in the tropics.

Aflatoxin contamination can be effectively prevented by properly drying peanuts after harvesting and keeping temperature and humidity low during storage.

Antinutrients

Peanuts contain several antinutrients, which are substances that impair your absorption of nutrients and reduce nutritional value.

Of the antinutrients in peanuts, phytic acid is particularly noteworthy.

Phytic acid (phytate) is found in all edible seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes. In peanuts, it ranges from 0.2–4.5%.

Phytic acid reduces the availability of iron and zinc in peanuts, lowering their nutritional value slightly.

This is usually not a concern in well-balanced diets and among those who eat meat regularly. Nonetheless, it may be a problem in developing countries where the main food sources are grains or legumes.

Peanut allergy

Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens.

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Allergy to peanuts is estimated to affect approximately 1% of Americans.

Peanut allergies are potentially life-threatening, and peanuts are sometimes considered the most severe allergen.

People with this allergy should avoid all peanuts and peanut products.

Summary: There are several downsides to peanuts, including potential aflatoxin contamination, phytic acid content, and severe allergic reactions.

Summary

Peanuts are as popular as they are healthy.

They’re an excellent plant-based source of protein and high in various vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.

They can be useful as a part of a weight loss diet and may reduce your risk of both heart disease and gallstones.

However, being high in fat, this legume is a high-calorie food and should not be eaten in excess.

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