Peanuts are good for you

Peanuts

Peanuts are one of my favourite snacks and knowing that they have health benefits makes for an excuse to indulge.

Peanut plant

Peanuts are often referred to as ground-nuts because, while the plant will flower above ground, the peanuts are produced under ground. This classifies it as a member of the legume family. Grown in the tropics and subtropics, apart from the edible nut, gluten free straight out of the pod, it’s a popular source of oil.

Peanut flour is gluten free.

Peanut flour is a by-product of the oil extraction process. After the oil has been pressed out, the remaining material is processed into a fine flour. Because most of the oil has been removed, the flour is low in fat but has all of the attributes of proteins and nutrients that give it value.

Being gluten free the flour is good for thickening sauces and stews or it can be added to smoothies.

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Peanut flour is available in dark or light roasted form. The oil levels range from 12% to 28% and the flavour gets stronger at the darker-roast end of the scale. With all of this and being a low-carb food, healthy-food cooks have something special to work with here.

However peanuts have a bad habit of being a potential danger to some who have a nut allergy. If ever you include any nut products in cooking you must be mindful of what, for some, can be a very serious problem. The important thing here is that you must check with guests or visitors to establish if any among them are effected.

The current thinking is that if peanut products are consumed at an early age the chances of this type of allergy are significantly reduced.

That having been said, for those who can eat peanut products, there are health benefits.

Peanut flour

Peanut oil is Cholesterol free.

Very similar to olive oil, peanut oil is low in saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats. It is also a source of an antioxidant vitamin E and phytosterols which aids heart health.

Peanuts for disease prevention.

It’s only in relatively recent times that the health benefits of peanuts have been recognized. Research has shown that peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil prevent chronic conditions including diabetes and cancer.

Compounds found in peanuts are believed to be able to reduce inflammation which can reduce the chances of triggering a chronic disease.

Other benefits from eating peanuts include:

Gall Stones

A hand full of peanuts a day can help prevent gall stone problems or gall bladder diseases, reducing the risk by 25%.

Colon Cancer

Eating a table spoon of peanut butter twice a week can reduce the risk of colon cancer. For women the risk is reduced by up to 58% and men up to 27%. Peanuts are an important part of women’s diets.

Reduces the risk of Strokes.

There is an antioxidant, Resveratol, found in peanuts which reduces cardiovascular diseases. This is to do with our blood circulation and the preventing of clots forming which can lead to strokes.

Helps to reduce depression.

This is to do with something called Serotonin. If our levels are low, we are likely to suffer from depression. Peanuts contain tryptophan which increases the release of Serotonin. A regular intake of peanuts will do a lot to keep you cheerful.

 Good for the skin.

Peanuts have anti-inflammatory properties that have an impact on skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. Peanuts contain magnesium, zinc and Vitamin E. This helps to fight bacteria that can cause acne. Put this together with the high level of protein available that promotes cell regeneration and we have a simple skin maintenance food.

Hair friendly.

Peanuts contain a high level of omega 3 fatty acids and larginine; an amino acid. This promotes healthy hair follicles for regrowth of hair. The Vitamin E will help to prevent weak and brittle hair.

Make it a routine.

I like to chew on a hand full of peanuts most days. I keep a container of nuts in close range for convenience. To make it a bit more interesting I mix in some dried fruit, usually sultanas.

(Medical disclaimer)

Image sources: commons.wikimedia.org simple.wikipedia.org flickr.com

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