Learn all there is to know about peanuts, where they come from, their health benefits, adverse effects, how to plant them and are they good for dogs.
Peanuts are that snack that’s always just around. They’re at the ballpark, at festivals and fairs. They’re in your pantry as peanut butter. You can get boiled peanuts, roasted peanuts…heck, you can even get circus peanuts if you like. But how healthy are peanuts, really? If you had to give up peanuts…could you?
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Like most members of the nut family, peanuts are high in protein but they’re also rather high in calories. One ounce of peanuts, which is 28 grams or about 28 peanuts, packs 161 calories, 14 grams of fat, and just over seven grams of protein. That includes almost two grams of saturated fat, almost seven grams of monounsaturated fat, and almost four and a half grams of polyunsaturated fat.
You’ll also get 44 grams of carbohydrates from an ounce of peanuts. This serving also contains niacin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. Peanuts pack in a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals and they are very high in protein.
How Much Fat is in Peanuts?
However, peanuts are high in oil content, which makes them high in fat. Peanut oil is very well known and popular in cooking. In fact, most of the world’s peanut harvest goes toward making peanut oil, not containers of dry roasted snack nuts. Peanuts are naturally full of fatty acids, which can be healthy for you in moderation.
Though they’re high in fat and calories, peanuts are a low-carb food. Because peanuts are high in protein and low in carbs, they’ve often considered a pretty good snack food for people who are dieting and they’re a cornerstone of the Paleo diet and other diets that emphasize high protein, low carb meal plans.
Peanut Vitamins and Minerals
Peanuts naturally contain biotin, a vitamin that improves skin and nail health. Biotin is a B vitamin, as is niacin (vitamin B3). Niacin can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Peanuts are also high in thiamine, vitamin B1. This vitamin helps convert carbs in your body into energy, which is pretty darn important. Thiamine also improves your muscle, nerve system, and heart function. Folic acid, vitamin B9, is also found in peanuts. This is a very good vitamin for pregnant women.
There are many useful minerals in peanuts as well. Peanuts contain copper, which your body needs to maintain heart health. Magnesium also helps to keep your heart healthy by protecting you against heart disease. Phosphorus helps to maintain body tissues, keeping you healthy overall.
Peanuts are also incredibly rich in antioxidants. However, these are mostly contained in the peanut skin. This is a brown, paper-like casing that surrounds peanuts. This skin is only present on raw peanuts.
Peanut Health Benefits
Peanuts are effective at controlling blood sugar, which makes them a good food for diabetics. There’s also evidence that peanuts can assist in weight loss. Because they’re high in protein and have healthy fat, they promote a feeling of fullness. And because they’re also a low carb food, peanuts work well with any diet that promotes eating lots of protein and not a lot of carbs, which is most diets.
Multiple studies show that peanuts can keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease. Peanuts, like many other nuts, also promote gallbladder health and reduce your risk of requiring gallbladder surgery.
Peanuts reduce cardiovascular inflammation and keep blood vessels relaxed. This helps keep your blood pressure low, reduces LDL cholesterol and coronary artery disease. Peanuts are also a source of fiber, which is good for heart health and helps you feel full.
Because vitamins are high in B vitamins and vitamin E, they may also reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Peanuts can even help your skin stay clearer. People who suffer from acne typically have low levels of antioxidants and vitamin E in their bodies, which peanuts have in abundance.
The Dark Side of Peanuts
Peanuts sound pretty great! So why isn’t everyone eating them by the handful all day every day? Well, peanuts do have a lot of nutritional value and they’re darn tasty. But there’s a dark side to this familiar legume, too.
Allergy to peanuts is one f the most common food allergies around, with many sufferers. Some people may have a strong allergy to peanuts while others only experience a mild intolerance that can create uncomfortable symptoms and a painful allergic reaction. You may experience gastrointestinal problems when you have a food allergy, such as diarrhea, gas, and bloating, something that can also result if you consume too many peanuts at once because they’re so high in fiber.
Are peanuts bad for dogs? It’s a fair question to ask because some nuts can be extremely harmful to your four-legged friends. But dogs absolutely adore peanut butter so they will gobble up the nuts, too. However, the high levels of sodium and fat in peanuts and peanut butter really aren’t good for your furry friend.
It’s okay if your dog snatches a couple of snack peanuts from the floor but this is definitely not a snack they should get regularly. Peanuts are high in protein and lots of good vitamins that animals need, but their dog food is more well-balanced for their needs and contains all that same good stuff.
Where Do Peanuts Come From?
Peanuts, Arachis hypogaea, are native to South America. They’re also known as goobers, earthnuts, and groundnuts. They’re also quite badly named. As many people know, peanuts aren’t really nuts. At least, they’re not a tree nut, like almonds and macadamia.
They’re actually legumes, which means they’re in the same family as lentils, beans, and soy. Unlike tree nuts, peanuts grow underground in pods. The peanut kernel found inside those familiar shells is really a peanut seed, not a nut.
Peanuts grow in the ground because they’re actually a vegetable, so you don’t have to plant a nut tree and wait for several years to enjoy a crop of fresh peanuts. In fact, the peanut plant has a growing cycle of about 120 days, so you don’t have to wait long at all to enjoy a peanut crop.
Peanuts need rich soil with good drainage and full sunlight to grow. You can grow peanuts straight from the seed, or the nut as we call it, either inside the shell or out of the shell. If you do remove the shell don’t remove the brown skin that covers the seed itself.
The plants grow about a foot high. Most planters use the mound method for growing peanuts, creating little hills of dirt around the base of the plant. When the leaves of the plant turn yellowish in color your crop is becoming ripe. The inside of the peanut shells will develop the gold or yellowish veining. This is how you know the crop is ready to harvest.
To harvest peanuts, you dig the plants right up by the roots and allow the entire plant to dry, roots and all, in a well-ventilated area. Once the leaves become brittle, each peanut pod can be pulled off the dead plants. Peanuts that are unshelled will stay edible for about 12 months if stored in airtight containers.
Peanuts are grown commercially on a massive scale. These nuts appear in trail mix, snack mix, baked goods, Asian dishes, candy bars, and the list goes on and on. It takes about 540 peanuts just to make one 12-ounce jar of peanut butter so this is a very in-demand crop.
Peanut butter is just one popular peanut product that totally depends on the nuts to exist, which is why peanut production is so important. The peanut industry isn’t going away anytime soon.
In commercial peanut harvesting, machines dig up, shake, and place the peanut plants to allow them to cure. After the plants have dried, combines pick up the plants and separate the pods, which are dispersed through the fields. Here, hoppers pick up the pods. The shelled peanuts are removed from the pods. Next, the nuts go to peanut mills so they can be cleaned. Peanuts are then processed for oil and food companies. Some of them may even become peanut flour!
How to Roast Peanuts
Peanuts are often sold roasted because this gives them a great flavor. However, you can roast your own raw peanuts. Bake them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. You can actually roast the raw peanuts in their shells or out. Allow them to cool and then you’re ready to enjoy tasty roasted peanuts whenever you want. Peanuts are a great addition to other recipes and can be used as a salad or sundae topping. The buttery, nutty flavor of peanuts pairs beautifully with sweet and savory foods.
Stay Nourished with Peanuts
Peanuts are definitely a high-value food when it comes to nutrition and health. When you eat them regularly and in moderation, they can do a lot of good things for your body and give you plenty of much-needed nutrients.
So keep some peanuts handy when you want a snack of a little extra addition to something you’re already eating. Now that you know so much about this nut that isn’t really a nut, the characters from the comic strip won’t be the first thing you think of the next time someone mentions peanuts to you!