Peanuts : nutrition, shocking 5 medical uses & 2 adverse effects

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Peanuts Nutritional Profile

• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate to high
• Protein: High
• Fat: High
• Saturated fat: High
• Cholesterol: None
• Carbohydrates: Low
• Fiber: High
• Sodium: Low
• Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin E, folate
• Major mineral contribution: Iron, potassium

How To Nutrients in This Food

• Peanuts are not nuts. They are legumes (beans and peas), unusual in that they store their energy as fat rather than starch.

• Peanuts are high in dietary fiber, including insoluble cellulose and lignin in their papery “skin” and soluble gums and pectins in the nuts. They are high in fat, primarily (86 percent) unsaturated fatty acids. Their proteins are plentiful but limited in the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cystine.

• Peanuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (from polyunsaturated fatty acids). Peanuts are an excellent source of vitamin E. Raw peanuts, with the skin on, are a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), but much of the thiamin, as well as vitamin B6, is lost when peanuts are roasted. All peanuts are a good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and folate. They are high in potassium.

• Ounce for ounce, they have nearly three times as much potassium as fresh oranges. They are also a good source of nonheme iron, iron in plant foods, and zinc.

• One-ounce dry-roasted unsalted peanuts have 2.3 g dietary fiber, 14.1 g total fat (2g saturated fat, 7 g monounsaturated fat, 4.4 polyunsaturated fat), 6.7 g protein, 41 mcg folate (10 percent of the RDA), 0.6 mg iron (3 percent of the RDA for a woman, 8 percent of the RDA for a man), and 0.9 mg zinc(11 percent of the RDA for a woman, 8 percent of the RDA for a man).

How To Serve Nutritious Food

With grains.

The proteins in peanuts and other legumes are deficient in the essential amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and cystine but contain sufficient amounts of the essentialamino acids lysine and isoleucine. The proteins in grains are exactly the opposite.

• Together they complement each other and produce “complete” proteins, which is the reason a peanut butter sandwich is nutritionally sound. With meat or a food rich in vitamin C. Both will increase the absorption of iron from the peanuts.

• Meat increases the acidity of the stomach (iron is absorbed better in an acid environment); vitamin C may change the iron in the peanuts from ferrous iron (which is hard to absorb) to ferric iron (which is easier to absorb).

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Peanuts Food

• Low residue diet
• Low-purine (antigout diet)
• Low-sodium diet (salted peanuts, peanut butter

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How to Buy This Food

Look for:

Tightly sealed jars or cans of processed peanuts. Peanuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that combine easily with oxygen and turn rancid if the peanuts are not protected from air and heat.

• Choose unshelled loose peanuts rather than shelled ones. The shell is a natural shield against light and air.

How To Storing This Food

• Store shelled or unshelled peanuts in a cool, dark cabinet. Keep them dry to protect them against mold. If you plan to hold them for longer than a month, refrigerate them in a tightly closed container.

How To Preparing This Food

• Pick over the peanuts and discard any that are moldy and may be contaminated with carcinogenic toxins called aflatoxins.

What Happens When You Cook This Food

• Heat destroys the thiamin (vitamin B1) in peanuts. Roasted peanuts are much lower in thiamin than fresh peanuts.

How Other Kinds of Processing effect This Food

peanuts butter

Peanut butter.

Peanut butter generally has more fat, saturated fat, salt (sodium), and sugar than plain peanuts, with as much fiber and potassium per serving as plain peanuts, but less folate. Two tablespoons (one ounce) of chunky-style peanut butter have an average of 2.11 g fiber, 239 mg potassium, and 29.44 mcg folate.

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Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits

Lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

Grape skin, pulp, and seed, and wines made from grapes, contain resveratrol, one of a group of plant chemicals credited with lowering cholesterol and thus reducing the risk of heart attack by preventing molecular fragments called free radicals from linking together to form compounds that damage body cells leading to blocked arteries, glucose-damaged blood vessels (diabetes), and unregulated cell growth (cancer).

Peanuts also contain resveratrol.

In fact, a 1998 analysis from the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Raleigh, North Carolina, shows that peanuts have 1.7 to 3.7 mcg resveratrol per gram of peanuts vs. 0.6 to 8.0 mcg resveratrol per gram of red wine.

Possible lower risk of a heart attack.

In the spring of 1998, an analysis of data from the records for more than 80,000 women enrolled in the long-running Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard school of Public Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, demonstrated that a diet providing more than 400 mcg folate and 3 mg vitamin B6 daily, either from food or supplements, might reduce a woman’s risk of heart attack by almost 50 percent. Although men were not included in the study, the results were assumed to apply to them as well.

• However, data from a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2006 called this theory into question. Researchers at Tulane University examined the results of 12 controlled studies in which 16,958 patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease were given either folic acid supplements or placebos (“look-alike” pills with no folic acid) for at least six months.

• The scientists, who found no reduction in the risk of further heart disease or overall death rates among those taking folic acid, concluded that further studies will be required to ascertain whether taking folic acid supplements reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lower cholesterol levels.

A 1998 study at the University of Rochester, Pennsylvania State University, and the Bassett Research Institute suggests that a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids from peanut oil and peanut butter reduce levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) without increasing levels of triglycerides (another form of fat considered an independent risk factor for heart disease).

Lower risk of some birth defects.

As many as two of every 1,000 babies born in the United States each year may have cleft palate or a neural tube (spinal cord) defect due to their mothers’ not having gotten adequate amounts of folate during pregnancy.

• The current RDA for folate is 180 mcg for a woman and 200 mcg for a man, but the FDA now recommends 400 mcg for a woman who is or may become pregnant. Taking folate supplements before becoming pregnant and continuing through the first two months of pregnancy reduces the risk of the cleft palate; taking folate through the entire pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects.

Adverse Effects Associated with This Food

Allergic reaction.

According to the Merck Manual, peanuts are one of the 12 foods most likely to trigger classic food allergy symptoms: hives, swelling of the lips and eyes, and upset stomach. The others are berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), chocolate, corn, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, peaches, pork, shellfish, and wheat (see wheat cereals).

NOTE: In 1998, USDA advised pregnant or breast-feeding women who suffer from eczema, hay fever, asthma, or other allergies or whose partner or children have allergies not to eat peanuts because children exposed to peanuts while in the womb or nursing are at higher risk of developing serious allergies to peanuts.

Production of uric acid.

Purines are the natural metabolic by-products of protein metabolism in the body. They eventually break down into uric acid, which may form sharp crystals that may cause gout if they collect in your joints or kidney stones if they collect in urine. Fresh and roasted peanuts are a source of purines; eating them raises the concentration of purines in your body.

• Although controlling the amount of purine-producing foods in the diet may not significantly affect the course of gout (which is treated with medication such as allopurinol, which inhibits the formation of uric acid), limiting these foods is still part of many gout regimens.


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