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The Power of Peanuts
If you really believe us, nuts are one of the healthiest snack foods out there. Popularly known as groundnuts, monkey nuts, pig nuts, etc., these nuts belong to the Fabaceae (bean) family.
Peanuts are popularly used as seed oil in India. Since they are obtained from the ground, they are also sometimes called as groundnuts. These are also taken as snacks in many households. They are actually legumes but since they have all the properties of nuts like almonds, cashew nuts, etc., these are also included in the family of nuts. These are the nuts you should be nuts about. EHC helps you to find out why.
Peanuts are a rich source of vital nutrients and it could vary depending on the way and form (salted, plain, roasted, butter, etc) it is consumed. Nevertheless, what do not change are the many health benefits of peanuts. Let us look at the nutritional value for one ounce of shelled peanuts, equivalent to 28g.
It contains a total of 166 calories. Protein 7.8 g, calcium 17.1 mg, potassium 203 mg, magnesium 49.3 mg, phosphorous 111 mg, sodium 89.6 mg, folate 33.6 mcg, carbohydrates 4.3 g, dietary fiber 2.6 g, and a total fat 14.7 mg.
Why Peanuts are Healthy?
Proteins: Protein is essential to the health of our cells. To ensure that the new cells are healthy, and the damaged ones are repaired well, we need protein. Peanuts are an extremely high source of plant protein. It should be regularly incorporated in diet for children, vegetarians, and protein deficient people.
Antioxidants: Peanuts contain high concentrations of the antioxidant polyphenols, primarily a compound called p-coumaric acid and oleic acid, that not only protects the heart but inhibits the growth of free radicals, keeping infection at bay.
Minerals: A rich source of minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, sodium, etc, so needed by our body to function well, is ensured by a regular consumption of peanuts.
Vitamins: Vitamins ensure vital health for cells and tissues, and for fighting infections. Peanuts provide our body with essential vitamins that also help in regulating metabolism, converting fat and carbohydrates into energy, and facilitating bone and tissue formation.
Anti-Cholesterol: It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the body due to the presence of the mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid that prevents coronary diseases.
Against Stomach Cancer: Poly-phenolic anti-oxidants are present in the peanuts in high concentrations. P-Coumaric acid has the ability to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by reducing the productions of carcinogenic nitrous-amines.
Against Gall Stones: Just an ounce of peanuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter each week can save you from gall stones or gallbladder diseases with 25% reduced risk.
Against Colon Cancer: Peanuts can reduce colon cancer especially in women. Eating at least 2 spoons of peanut butter twice a week can reduce the risk of colon cancer in women by up to 58% and in men by up to 27%.
Fights Depression: Low serotonin levels lead to depression. Tryptophan in peanuts increases the release of this chemical and thus helps fight depression.
Too Much Peanuts Could be Bad
Allergy: Excessive peanuts intake may lead to gas, heartburn, and a suddenly developed food allergy to peanuts. A peanut allergy is perhaps the most serious food allergy you can develop. Peanut allergy sufferers are at high risk of serious allergic reactions that can actually be life threatening, even if the first episode of peanut sensitivity was not severe. If you suspect you have a peanut allergy, you need to get tested by an allergist immediately and avoid all nut products until the allergy is determined as legitimate or not.
Weight Gain: The high fat content in peanuts is what makes them suspects in weight gain. One ounce of peanuts contains 14 g of fat, but most of that fat is of the healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kinds. Peanuts are relatively high in calories, packing 161 calories per ounce. So like any other food, peanuts should be eaten in moderation if you want to avoid gaining weight.
Cautions on Use
Peanuts are susceptible to contamination of aflatoxin produced by a fungus, aspergillus flavus, which is very toxic and carcinogenic (causing malignant new growths that are found in skin or the lining of body organs), especially a risk factor to liver carcinoma. Once the peanut reveals a greenish yellow appearance, it is dangerous and can no longer be consumed.