Scientifically checked

Peanuts

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 16. Oct. 2020

Peanuts are as classic an American snack food as they come, and they're also surprisingly healthy. Read up on the health benefits of these delicious morsels below.

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Peanuts...

  • ...support brain and nervous system health.
    Peanuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral which helps support brain function and helps keep muscles and the nervous systems functioning properly
  • ...are rich in protein.
    Peanuts contain almost 30% protein, way more than any nut and seed, and for good reason-- peanuts aren’t technically a nut at all, but a legume.
  • ...kickstart the metabolism.
    100 g of peanuts contains your entire daily requirement of niacin, a mineral which helps the body build up and break down carbohydrates and fatty acids.
  • ...may help lower your risk of developing certain diseases.
    Some studies have shown that eating peanuts regularly may help prevent certain types of diseases and health issues, including heart attack, diabetes and stroke.
  • ...help keep bones strong.
    Peanuts contain a generous portion of phosphorus, a mineral which helps keep bones and teeth strong and healthy.
  • ...are heart-healthy.
    The majority of peanuts’ fat content consists of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are good for the heart and blood vessels.
  • ...help protect the body's cells.
    Just 100 g of peanuts contains two thirds of your daily requirement of vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps protect the body’s cells against damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to anything from cancer to premature aging.

What You Should Know About Peanuts

Origins

The original home of the peanut is in South America, with many botanists believing the oldest wild form of peanuts originate from around modern-day Peru.

Season

Peanuts are available all year round. However, the main season for peanuts in shell is late autumn and winter, and especially the pre-Christmas period.

Flavor

Raw, unroasted peanuts taste pleasantly mild and slightly like beans. Roasted peanuts have a much more intense, nutty and slightly salty flavor.

Peanut Cookbooks

Find all our recipes with peanuts here.

How Healthy are Peanuts?

The peanut's name is the ultimate misnomer; in fact, peanuts aren't a nut at all, but come from the legume family. This is the reason peanuts are so high in protein, with about 30% of each peanut comprised of plant proteins, way more than any nut or seed. Indeed a 50 g serving of peanuts already contains about 7x your daily requirement of protein, meaking these morsels a particularly beneficial ingredient for vegans and vegetarians. 

Peanuts are also a good source of an array of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which helps support the health of the muscles and nervous system; niacin,which helps the body build up and break down carbohydrates and fatty acids; phosphorus, which keeps bones healthy and strong; and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which helps protect the body's cells against damage caused by free radicals. Peanuts are also rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help support cardiovascular health and can help lower bad cholesterol. These powerful fatty acids might even help lower your chances of developing certain diseases. Some studies have shown that eating peanuts regularly may help prevent certain types of diseases and health issues, including heart attack, diabetes and stroke, results many doctors attribute to the peanuts' high dose of healthy fats.

And while the peanuts' fat content is good for the cardiovascular system, it's not as beneficial for the wastline. Polysaturated or not, peanuts' high fat content also means a high calorie content, making it far from ideal as a diet food. Indeed 100 grams of peanuts contains a whopping 599 calories.

Dieters aren't the only people who should stay away from peanuts. Indeed peanut allergies are one of the most common allergies in the world, yield symptoms that range from melatively mild, such as itching and watery eyes, to sever symptoms including shortness of breath, shock and even death. If you have a known allergy, you should not eat peanuts under any circumstances. In addition make sure to check labels and inquire with whoever is preparing your food if it has peanuts before you eat it. Many foods are prepared in kitchens that utilize peanuts and can contain accidental but life-threatening contamination. If you are very sensitive to peanuts, even tiny amounts can lead to severe allergic reactions. That's why manufacturers have been required to state this on all products for a long time now if they could possibly contain even traces of peanuts due to processing.

PEANUT NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g)  
Calories 599
Protein 29.8 g
Fat 48 g
Carbohydrates 7.5 g
Fiber 11.7 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

It's best not be too frugal when buying peanuts. With generic and bargain brands, risk of infestation by aflatoxins (mold poison) increases, while higher-quality brands usually rely on higher quality controls that rid the peanuts of all traces of mold before packaging. 

Storage

Because peanuts contain so much fat, they go rancid relatively quickly. It's best to eat them as quickly as possible, and when storing to keep them well-sealed in a cool dark place, protected from light and heat.

Preparation

Whether salted, spiced, roasted or unroasted, if you buy pre-packaged peanuts, all you have to do is open the package. If you decide to buy raw peanuts, on the other hand, you'll  have to break open the soft shell (this is easily done with your fingers) and then remove the brown skin which covers each kernal. 

Finally, depending on the recipe, you can chop the peanut kernels coarsely even grind them in a food processor.

What to Make With Peanuts

You can also easily roast fresh peanuts yourself after peeling them: simply spread them on a baking tray so there's a bit of space between each nut (they shouldn't be overlapping) and roast them on the middle shelf of the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Turn once or twice in between. Then take the tray out of the oven and season them with salt and pepper to taste. 

Whether raw or roasted, whole or chopped, there's so much you can do with peanuts. They add delicious crunch and rich nutty flavor to an array of savory recipes, from hearty entrees like our Pad Thai with Shrimp and Chicken to simple summer salads or even cold noodle dishes. They're also delicious in sweet recipes, from a yummy ice cream topping to a classic, always-delicious Peanut Brittle.

And of course nothing is as delicious (or as easy) as Homemade Peanut Butter.

Scientifically checked by our EAT SMARTER experts
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