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Peanuts – Superfood For The Vessels

Peanuts are – contrary to expectations – very healthy, yes, a real superfood. The small power packs are a great source of protein and provide you with valuable vital substances. In addition, the tasty fat bombs lower your cholesterol level and help you lose weight. You should therefore snack on peanuts more often!

Peanuts are high in protein and a good source of vitamins

Peanuts are high in fat. Their fat content is 48 percent. Nevertheless, scientific studies have long since shown that peanuts – consumed in the right quantity and quality – are anything but potential fatteners. On the contrary, they even help you lose weight, as we explain below.

With 25 percent protein per 100 grams, peanuts also contribute to the protein supply and are also an excellent source of the vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and magnesium. And if you eat the red skin of the peanut, you also get an extra portion of antioxidants, namely in the form of OPC. You can find all the nutritional values ​​of the peanut below.

The Calories of Peanuts

Due to their high-fat content, peanuts provide plenty of energy, which means that they have a lot of calories, namely 576 kcal per 100 g or 2374 kJ. Therefore, if you snack on peanuts, it shouldn’t be done as an addition, but instead as an unhealthy snack.

Despite their fat content, peanuts lower your cholesterol level

Despite their high-fat content, an American study by Purdue University was able to prove that peanuts have a positive effect on high cholesterol levels, namely, they can lower them. Participants who had high cholesterol levels at the start of the study showed reduced total cholesterol levels and decreased LDL cholesterol levels at the end of the study – after just four weeks of eating 56 g of peanuts daily.

Peanuts improve triglyceride levels

According to the latest findings, peanuts can even have a positive effect on triglyceride levels (blood fat levels). The triglyceride level is usually increased in overweight, but also indicates a lipid metabolism disorder and represents a risk for thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.

Triglyceride levels rise immediately after a fatty meal as dietary fats migrate into the blood—and should also rise after a peanut snack since peanuts are so high in fat. Xiaoran Liu, a graduate student in nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, got to the bottom of this in a 2021 study15 of 15 overweight men.

First of all, the men ate a high-fat menu. After the meal, study participants were given a shake containing 85 grams of ground peanuts or a shake without peanuts but with the same calorie count. Then the blood of all subjects was examined.

Lo and behold, the subjects who drank the peanut shake now had significantly lower triglyceride levels than the comparison group. Since endothelial functions usually deteriorate after high-fat meals, these values ​​were also checked.

Peanuts improve vascular function

The endothelium is the inner wall of blood vessels. Their tasks include B. the following:

  • regulation of blood pressure
  • Maintaining the fluidity of the blood
  • regulation of blood clotting

Poor endothelial function inevitably increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

The test persons who had not eaten any peanuts with their high-fat menu showed poorer values ​​in the endothelial function test. However, the subjects who drank the peanut shake did not exhibit such a deterioration in endothelial function. It, therefore, appeared that the peanuts could have compensated for the endothelium-damaging properties of the high-fat meal.

“Previous studies have already shown that people who eat peanuts more than twice a week have a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” explains Liu. “Now, our study proves that the protective effects of peanuts can be attributed in part to their positive impact on blood vessel health.”

Weight loss with peanuts

A study by the University of Houston/Texas in 2010 showed that peanuts can even help you lose weight. In particular, the combination of unhealthy food and constant snacking leads to obesity – according to Dr. Craig Johnston, assistant professor at the University of Houston. This problem is particularly pronounced in schools, where children do not have access to other meals.

“Many children do not eat proper meals throughout the day. Instead, they snack all the time. Then in the afternoon when the kids come home, they sit in front of the television and continue to snack.”

Lose twice as much weight with peanut snacks

Johnston, therefore, conducted a study with 257 overweight adolescents in which the students were asked to lose weight with the help of a healthier diet and more exercise. Half of the students received, among other things, A peanut or peanut butter snack three to four times a week – always right after school, before the kids got on the bus home. The other half received this snack no more than once a week.

After the 12-week study period, students were asked to maintain the new eating habits for an additional 12 weeks. It then turned out that the children who ate peanuts lost twice as much weight as the other children who ate peanuts infrequently (and probably something else instead).

Healthy Peanut Snacks

The researchers, therefore, recommend offering children peanut snacks instead of unhealthy snacks (which of course also applies to adults), e.g. e.g.:

  • Peanuts in the shell (roasted in the shell)
  • raw peanut kernels with skin
  • a slice of wholemeal crispbread with peanut butter
  • a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • a peanut bar from the health food store
  • a date (pitted) filled with peanut butter and cinnamon

These peanut snacks are more nutritious, healthier and at the same time more filling than many other snacks such as chocolate, waffles, Nutella bread, ice cream, gummy bears, etc.

That’s how big a portion of peanuts is

A serving of peanut kernels is 30 g. A portion of peanut butter or peanut butter is 20 g.

Unhealthy Peanut Snacks

But beware: Not all peanut snacks are automatically healthy just because “peanut” is on the packaging! “Peanut snack” therefore does NOT mean snacks that consist of large amounts of sugar, salt, flavor enhancers, aromas, etc., such as e.g. B. the following:

  • Peanut chocolate bars such as Snickers, Nestlé Snack Peanut, or similar.
  • Peanut Flips or Peanut Curls
  • Corn Peanut Chips
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Roasted and salted peanuts (with or without fat)

Examples of unhealthy peanut snacks

Funny Frisch’s peanut flippies, for example, consist of only 32 percent peanuts. The rest is a flavored and salted mix of corn grits and sunflower oil. Yeast extract contains glutamate and is added as a flavor enhancer. Here is the original ingredients list:

Maize semolina, PEANUTS (32%), sunflower oil, salt, sugar, natural flavor, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids), yeast extract (contains BARLEY).
The Nestlé Snack Peanut is an even better example of how unhealthy, useless, and distressing conventional snacking can be. Here is the ingredients list:

47.5% icing (sugar, hydrogenated vegetable fat, vegetable oil, whey product, low-fat cocoa, emulsifier sunflower lecithin, aroma), 16.1% roasted peanuts, wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil, 3.3% rice flakes (rice flour, barley malt extract, sugar, salt ), whey product, lactose, raising agents (ammonium hydrogen carbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate, magnesium carbonate), milk protein, salt, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin, polyglycerol polyricinoleate), milk minerals, coloring E160c, butterfat, antioxidant (E304, E307, with soy), flavoring.

So if you want to snack on peanuts, snack on PEANUTS! And not a colorful jumble of any highly industrially processed ingredients that get the desired taste, the desired consistency, and the desired appearance with the help of sugar, salt, flavorings, emulsifiers, and colorings, but have nothing to do with natural food.

The main ingredient in the Nestlé product, accounting for almost half, is icing, although it is not even specified which fat is used. Peanuts only make up 16 percent.

Even some “healthy” brands of peanut snacks can contain unfavorable or unnecessary ingredients like glucose syrup or sugar. Therefore, please always look at the list of ingredients (which is ALWAYS a good idea, by the way).

You should pay attention to this when buying peanuts

When buying peanuts, you should pay attention to the following points:

Whole peanuts – with or without the shell

Roasted peanuts in the shell, which you can easily crack open with your hands, represent almost the most natural form of peanut enjoyment and are only surpassed by unroasted peanut kernels in raw food quality. Always eat the whole kernels fresh and make sure you only buy fresh peanuts (note the best-before date; the nuts should have a shelf life of at least 4 to 5 months).

To avoid possible mold growth, you could also contact the supplier and ask for regular aflatoxin analyzes (aflatoxin is the mold toxin). Always store peanuts (whether in the shell or the raw peanut kernels) in a dry, cool, and dark place. Moisture should be avoided to prevent mold from forming.

Peanut butter

It is best to buy peanut butter in organic shops (organic supermarkets, health food stores, health food stores). Because the quality differences to conventional products are sometimes very large.

Zentis (Crunchy) peanut butter from conventional retailers, for example, contains 11 percent sugar, 1.1 percent salt, and only 25 percent protein, while Rapunzel’s organic product from specialist organic retailers only contains 4.5 percent sugar, only 0.8 percent salt, and 29 percent protein.

Peanut butter may contain palm oil/palm fat. However, if the manufacturer specifically points out that the palm oil in its peanut butter comes from organic and sustainable agriculture, then a product containing palm oil can also be consumed. Oil palms have been cultivated in many smallholder cooperatives for decades, and no rainforest suffers as a result.

Peanut butter

Pure organic peanut butter is even better. In contrast to peanut butter, the puree consists exclusively of ground peanuts without the addition of other fats, sugar, or other additives. It is available with or without salt; fine or crunchy (with crunchy (roasted) pieces of peanuts). Peanut butter can be used wonderfully as a spread (also instead of butter), as a baking ingredient, or as part of sauces and desserts.

Allergy to peanuts

According to the Robert Koch Institute, 8 percent of adults and 10.9 percent of children in Germany are affected by a peanut allergy. Of course, if you’re in this group, don’t snack on peanuts at first. However, there are ways to heal a peanut allergy or reduce allergic reactions to peanuts.

Oral immunotherapy for peanut allergy

A March 2021 study showed that peanut allergy in children is highly treatable. Researchers from the University of British Columbia tested oral immunotherapy (desensitization) in 117 children between the ages of 9 months and 5 years.

They all had a peanut allergy. With oral immunotherapy, those affected receive increasing doses of the allergen in the form of a drug (in this case, isolated peanut protein powder). The aim is for the allergy sufferer to be able to eat a normal portion of the food in question without showing an allergic reaction. Even after desensitization has taken place, the drug must be continued to be taken at the maintenance dose.

The children now received 300 mg of peanut protein daily, which corresponds to 1 peanut or a quarter teaspoon of peanut butter. After a year (during which only mild allergic reactions occurred), 80 percent of the children could eat 15 peanuts (equivalent to 4000 mg of peanut protein) without showing a reaction.

Almost all children (98 percent) could eat 3 to 4 peanuts without an allergic reaction. This means that the treatment can prevent the life-threatening anaphylactic shock that often occurs when the allergic person accidentally eats food that has traces of peanuts in it, e.g. B. with an invitation or even if the possibly contained peanut traces were not noted on the packaging.

Peanut allergy doesn’t outgrow it

The earlier the therapy is started, the better, explain the doctors involved. Because a peanut allergy does not usually outgrow it. On the contrary, it can get progressively worse and, in extreme cases, lead to social isolation and anxiety because you no longer know what to eat without fearing a life-threatening reaction.

Possible causes of a peanut allergy

The following are discussed as possible causes of peanut allergy: use of skin care products containing peanut oil in the first years of life, administration of soy-containing infant formula (a soy allergy does not have to be present at the same time), and skin rashes on the joints and in skin folds.

However, the latter generally already speaks for an allergic reaction. Since allergies are always related to intestinal health, this should always be the focus of therapy. The administration of probiotics (e.g. with L. rhamnosus) can very well accompany oral immunotherapy. Which probiotic is optimal for an allergy should be discussed with your holistic doctor.

The Nutrients of Peanuts

Below are the nutrients of raw peanuts (shelled, unsalted, unroasted) per 100g:

  • Energy: 576 kcal/2374 kJ
  • Fat: 48.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.5 g
  • Protein: 29.8g
  • Fiber: 11.7 g
  • Water: 0.7g

The vitamins in peanuts

Below you will find the vitamins in peanuts or peanut kernels (i.e. without the shell) per 100 g. In brackets we indicate the daily requirement of an adult:

  • Beta Carotene: 2 µg (2000 µg)
  • Vitamin B1: 900 mcg (1100 mcg)
  • Vitamin B2: 155 µ (1200 µg)
  • Vitamin B3: 20.7mg (17mg)
  • Vitamin B5: 2.9mg (6mg)
  • Vitamin B6: 440 mcg (2000 mcg)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin): 34 µg (100 µg)
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid): 169 µg (400 – 600 µg)
  • Vitamin B12: 0 µg
  • Vitamin C: 0 micrograms
  • Vitamin D: 0 micrograms
  • Vitamin E: 10 mg (12 – 15 mg)
  • Vitamin K: 0 micrograms

The minerals and trace elements in peanuts

Below you will find the minerals and trace elements in peanuts or peanut kernels (without the shell) per 100 g. In brackets we indicate the daily requirement of an adult:

  • minerals
  • Sodium: 11.0 mg (1500 mg)
  • Potassium: 660.0 mg (4000 mg)
  • Calcium: 41.0 mg (1000 mg)
  • Magnesium: 160.0 mg (350 mg)
  • Phosphorus: 340.0 mg (700 mg)
  • Chloride: 7.0 mg (2300 mg)
  • Sulfur: 380.0 mg (no need known)
  • trace elements
  • Iron: 1.8 mg (12.5 mg)
  • Zinc: 2.8mg (8.5mg)
  • Copper: 0.7 mg (1.25 mg)
  • Manganese: 1.6 mg (3.5 mg)
  • Fluoride: 130 mcg (3800 mcg)
  • Iodide: 13 mcg (200 mcg)

The peanut oil

Peanut oil can be obtained from peanuts. It is considered a good frying oil because it has a high smoke point due to its high proportion of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids and can therefore be heated without any loss of quality. However, this only applies to refined peanut oil (smoke point 230 degrees).

If you use unrefined, i.e. native peanut oil, its smoke point is only 160 degrees. Because native oils still contain many accompanying substances (vitamins, polyphenols) that “burn” quickly. When roasting, however, 200 degrees are quickly reached. Natural peanut oil is therefore only suitable for gentle heating or gentle frying, but it tastes better and is also healthier.

The fatty acid profile of peanut oil

Peanut oil has the following fatty acid profile:

  • Saturated Fatty Acids: 18.1 g
  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: 48.4 g
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 28.4 g (of which 25.7 g omega-6 fatty acids and 0.7 g omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Omega-6-Omega-3 ratio: 36:1

Saturated fat in peanuts is not a problem

The proportion of saturated fatty acids in peanuts or peanut oil is generally described as high. Don’t worry though, as saturated fats have an unjustified bad reputation (increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease), as we wrote in our article Saturated fats don’t cause atherosclerosis. So in the peanut z. They contain, for example, behenic acid (1.3 g) and myristic acid (0.2 g), both of which are saturated fatty acids that are even considered life-prolonging, as we explain in the previous link.

The height of the HDL value is not decisive!

The content of palmitic acid (5.1 g), also a saturated fatty acid, is particularly high in peanut fat. A study from 2021 points out that although palmitic acid cannot – like stearic acid – increase HDL cholesterol (HDL is considered the good cholesterol), it is now known that the HDL value is not important, but rather on the ability of the HDL to clearing cholesterol from macrophages. (Cholesterol-rich macrophages represent a large part of the deposits on the blood vessel walls that form in arteriosclerosis). The value of this HDL ability was not negatively influenced by either of the two saturated fatty acids in the study mentioned.

A study from 2004 also states that it is very likely not a question of how much of a single fatty acid you consume, but rather of which other fatty acids you consume, i.e. the fatty acid ratio of all the fatty acids ingested to one another is.

So would e.g. For example, adding a small amount of polyunsaturated fat to a diet high in saturated fat can neutralize the possible negative impact of saturated fat on LDL cholesterol levels.

And since peanut not only contains saturated fat but also a large portion of polyunsaturated fat, this will also be the reason why peanut has such a positive effect on blood lipid levels.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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