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Peanuts: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

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Peanuts are the regular ingredient included in all kinds of food and are usually eaten as a snack. You might have seen peanuts being sold in the tiny cone-shaped paper on the street, or probably at the beach. Peanuts are useful in the making of peanut oil, peanut butter, roasted peanuts, salted and sweet peanut bars, and peanut sauce.1 The scientific name of the peanuts is Arachis hypogaea and its common name is groundnuts which are eaten edible. Technically, peanuts are considered pea and belong to legumes/beans. Peanuts are cultivated globally due to their importance and their regular usage.1 China is the leading producer of peanuts, India and the USA stand next to it. Many by-products can be prepared by peanuts and they may be included in a regular diet due to their nutritional benefits.1 Let us discuss the nutritional and health benefits.  

Nutritional Value of Peanuts: 

The nutrients present in peanuts are as follows: 

Nutrient  Percentage content 
Protein  21.4g 
Carbohydrates  21.4g 
Fats  46.4g 
Fibre  7.1g 
Sugars  3.57g 
Fatty acids  7.14g 

Table 1: Nutrients present in peanuts per 100g2 

100g of peanuts is estimated to provide an energy of 571 kcal. 

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Properties of Peanuts: 

Peanuts might have the following properties: 

  • It might have antioxidant properties 
  • It might have an anti-cancer potential 
  • It might have heart-protective properties 
  • It might help lower diabetes 
  • It might help lower blood pressure1 

Potential Uses of Peanuts for Overall Health: 

Various studies have shown that eating either peanuts or processed peanuts might have positive effects on health. This might be due to the various bioactive compounds like oleic acid, phytosterols, resveratrol, and arginine in it.1 Some of the potential uses of peanuts for human health are as follows. 

1. Potential uses of peanuts for diabetes: 

One of the studies showed that regular intake of peanuts may help in reducing the risk of diabetes. The potential nature of peanuts may be due to the presence of vitamins, proteins, and fibres in them.3 More studies are required to understand the exact benefits, that peanuts might have on diabetes. However, a serious condition of diabetes must be properly diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, do not self-medicate and kindly consult a doctor.1,3 

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2. Potential uses of peanuts for inflammation: 

It is hypothesised that the presence of useful fats, dietary fibres, arginine, magnesium and antioxidants in peanuts might help in regulating inflammation.  One of the studies, showed that dietary factors may help in relieving inflammation. Therefore, peanuts might help reduce inflammation. However, more research is required to prove these potential effects of peanuts.1,4 

3. Potential uses of peanuts for blood pressure: 

Researchers have found that the food that we eat might have an impact on blood pressure. Furthermore, it was found that peanuts have various bioactive compounds which might help lower blood pressure. Thus, it might also help reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.  A combination of high glycemic load mix with peanut butter may help in stabilizing the blood sugar levels. Peanut butter is a good source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which may help lower blood pressure. However, such claims need to be proved by further research. Kindly consult a doctor to receive proper treatment for high blood pressure and do not self-medicate.1 

4. Potential uses of peanuts for the heart: 

 Peanuts and peanut butter might have the potential to help reduce the risk factors of heart diseases in all ages, genders and even in people with multiple risk factors like diabetes. Peanuts may also help in reducing the total cholesterol level and improve the blood circulation in the heart. These claims, however, need to be verified by conducting extensive experiments and studies. Therefore, kindly ensure that you consult a specialist for your heart disease and do not self-medicate.1,4 

5. Potential uses of peanuts for weight management: 

Several studies have shown that peanuts might have the potential to help with weight management. It was found that it might have the potential to lower the total and LDL cholesterol (low-density low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol).  It might help reduce weight and may also help with long-term weight management.1 However, further research needs to be done on weight management and consult a nutritionist before undergoing weight management training.  

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6. Potential uses of peanuts for alzheimer’s disease: 

Peanuts have vitamin E and niacin, which might have the potential to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease. In one study conducted by Morris in 2004, including 4000 people aged above 65 years, it was seen that niacin might have the potential to slow down the rate of cognitive decline.  Therefore, peanuts might have the potential to help reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease due to the various bioactive compounds present in them. However, such effects need to be studied further by conducting more studies and don’t go for self-medication.1 

7. Potential uses of peanuts for the gallbladder: 

 People who eat peanuts and peanut butter regularly had a lower risk of being affected by gallbladder diseases.  To confirm these claims, more research is needed on peanuts.   

Therefore, do not self-medicate and kindly consult a doctor, if you suspect a gallbladder disease.1 

8. Potential uses of peanuts for cancer: 

The various bioactive compounds like phytosterols, resveratrol, and arginine present in peanuts might attribute to the potential anit-cancer activity. A variety of research has been conducted and it was hypothesised that phytosterols present in peanuts might have the potential to reduce the size of prostate tumours and it may also lower the chances of their recurrence.  However, more research is required to prove such effects of peanuts. Serious conditions like cancer must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.1 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of peanuts in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of peanuts on human health.  

How to Use Peanuts? 

Peanuts can be consumed as it is, or they can be used for making various snacks and products. More than three hundred products were developed by the “father of the peanut industry” George Washington Carver.1 Some of the forms in which peanuts can be used are as follows: 

  • Peanut oil 
  • Peanut caramel bars (also known as Chikki) 
  • Peanut milk 
  • Peanut flour 
  • Peanut butter 
  • Roasted peanuts  
  • Peanut snacks  
  • Peanut cheese analogues1 

They are used for cooking, for example in soups and desserts.1  

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You must consult a qualified doctor before taking peanuts in excess amounts. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Side Effects of Peanuts: 

 The common side effects of peanuts are: 

  • Allergies: peanuts might cause allergies in certain people and the exact cause for the allergy is not known. However, the cotyledons of peanuts might have allergic components in them.1 The following symptoms might be noticed: 
  • Diarrhoea  
  • Increased itching of the skin (exacerbation of atopic eczema) 
  • Swelling of face, lips, throat and skin (angioedema) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Asthma 
  • Anaphylactic shock 
  • Raised red bumps or rashes on the skin (urticaria or hives)1 
  • Food poisoning: Contamination of peanuts by a fungus called Aspergillus flavus is a common occurrence and eating such contaminated peanuts might cause food poisoning.1 

Precautions to Take with Peanuts:    

 You should be careful while taking peanuts as it can cause the above-mentioned side effects. Therefore, you should ensure that you are not allergic to peanuts before you consume them.   

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

More research is required to study the interactions that peanuts might have with other drugs. Therefore, you should consult your doctor and confirm if it is safe for you to consume peanuts, especially if you are taking medications and undergoing any treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1)  What are the benefits of peanuts? 

Peanuts might have various potential uses for health such as diabetes, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, gallbladder, cancer, blood pressure and weight management. However, more research is required to prove these potential effects.1 

2) What are the benefits peanuts for the heart? 

Several studies have shown that peanuts might have the potential to reduce the risk of heart diseases by potentially helping lower the factors associated with them.1 

3) What is the nutritious value of peanuts? 

 Peanuts contains proteins (21.43%), carbohydrates (21.43%), fats (46.43%), sugars (3.57%), fibre (7.1%) and fatty acids (7.14%) in it.2  

4) What are the benefits of peanuts for the skin? 

No valid reports are claiming the benefits of peanuts for the skin. More research is required on this subject. 

5) What are the benefits of eating peanuts for hair? 

No valid reports are claiming the benefits of peanuts for hair. More research is required on this subject. 

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