Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are a deliciously crunchy and nutty snack that you can have at any time of the year. This legume, which originated in South America, is known by a variety of names such as groundnuts, earthnuts, and goobers. Not many realize that peanuts have great nutritional benefits. They have an abundance of protein, healthy fats, and are low in carbohydrates. Furthermore, peanuts are rich in energy (567 calories per 100 g) and have plenty of nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. Studies have also shown that peanuts may even be beneficial for weight loss and are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. This makes them an important part of any healthy diet.
Today, we will learn about some of the lesser-known but significant health benefits of peanuts. You will get to know how making them a part of your regular diet is essential for optimal health.
1. Peanuts are a great source of biotin (vitamin H)
Peanuts are one of the richest dietary sources of biotin, also called vitamin H, vitamin B7, or vitamin B8. Biotin is water-soluble, just like the other B vitamins, and dissolves easily upon entering the body. Biotin is involved with plenty of enzymatic reactions in the body and is especially important during pregnancy as even mild biotin deficiency can increase the risk of congenital birth defects.
Research also suggests that biotin can be useful for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and some brain conditions. Health experts recommend that adults should get at least 30 micrograms of biotin per day. Having a quarter-cup serving of peanuts will give you more than 26 micrograms of biotin per day.
2. Peanut consumption may cut the risk of gallstones
Gallstones, also called cholelithiasis, are hardened deposits of digestive fluid that can form in your gallbladder. They generally don’t require treatment but can cause a lot of pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen if they increase in number. Overweight individuals, people over the age of 40, and those with a diet high in calories and refined carbohydrates are at higher risk of gallstones. Studies have shown that peanut consumption may cut the risk of gallstones in both men and women.
Peanuts have a cholesterol-lowering effect and since most gallstones are largely composed of cholesterol, having peanuts regularly can help lower the risk of getting them. Another study found that eating peanuts lowered the risk of gallstones by 25%. While it isn’t clear exactly what nutrients in peanuts help protect your gallbladder, it is suggested that eating one serving of peanuts per day is linked with reduced risk of gallstone formation.
3. Peanuts can improve heart health
Studies have indicated that eating peanuts, along with other types of nuts can help improve your heart’s health. Peanuts contain several heart-healthy nutrients such as magnesium, niacin, copper, oleic acid, and multiple antioxidants, such as resveratrol. All these nutrients are good for the heart. Resveratrol, in fact, has been found to have a protective function against heart disease.
Another study, led by Marta Guasch-Ferré, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, found that eating peanuts at least twice each week was associated with a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Peanut consumption was also linked with a 15 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk.
“In three large prospective cohort studies,” the study authors conclude, “higher consumption of total and specific types of nuts was inversely associated with total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.”
Yet another large observational study, conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China, and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that consumption of peanuts "may be considered a cost-effective measure to improve cardiovascular health". The study, which was carried out over five years and included more than 200,000 participants, observed that these nuts are incredibly heart-healthy and can allow people to live longer and more productive lives.
4. Peanuts contain monounsaturated fats, the good kind of fats
Peanuts often get a raw deal and are considered unhealthy because of their high-fat content. However, do you know that peanuts also have high monounsaturated fat content? This is a good kind of fat that helps lower bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Also, the high content of protein and monounsaturated fat in peanuts may increase calorie burning.
Monounsaturated fats have also been associated with lower cardiovascular risk. Once you start getting regular lots of monounsaturated fats in your diet, your arteries are likely to get clearer and your blood will flow well which will eventually lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Research has also shown that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet reduces the risk of developing heart disease. The monounsaturated fats found in peanuts, in fact, can be a good and important part of a healthy diet particularly when they replace saturated fat.
5. They are diabetic friendly
Peanuts aren’t just useful for their nutritional content. They can also be a good snack for people with diabetes as they have a low impact on blood sugar levels. Furthermore, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, eating peanuts or peanut butter may lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because these nuts are high in unsaturated fat and other nutrients that help your body manage insulin.
Also, peanuts contain manganese, a mineral that plays a crucial part in metabolizing fat and carbohydrate, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. They are known to have a low glycemic index which makes it the perfect snack for diabetics.
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