The Benefits of peanuts have been a long-standing snack commonly enjoyed at bars, on airplanes, and at baseball games. Perhaps these associations are what have given the popular nut a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to bite-sized food options. But peanuts are increasingly being considered more and more for their benefits, as foodies and nutritionists alike are starting to recognize the potential health perks of shelling a handful to nibble.
As a good source of fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fat, peanuts contain healthy doses of vitamin E, magnesium, folate, copper, and phosphorus. These elements help contribute to muscle function, energy production, proper cell division (especially during pregnancy and childhood), and immune system maintenance. Recent studies have found that eating peanuts might actually lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and even death.
One of the more surprising things about the benefits of peanuts is how high in antioxidants they are compared to most foods. They rival many health foods, like blackberries, strawberries, apples, carrots, and beets. In fact, roasting the nuts increases the antioxidant value greatly. And consuming peanuts a few times a week is shown to lower the risk of developing gallstones, Alzheimer’s, and another age-related cognitive decline while defending against weight gain.
While peanut allergies may prevent some people from enjoying them, a new study indicates that this type of intolerance can be prevented by giving children foods with benefits of peanuts when they are very young infants. As far as adults without allergies, peanuts are an especially great option for vegetarians in need of plant-based protein with all the essential amino acids. But they don’t have to be eaten whole to reap their benefits. There are plenty of ways the benefits of peanuts can be incorporated into your daily diet.
Starting your day with some peanut butter is a good way to give yourself an energy boost first thing in the morning. Spread some on toast, apple slices, or in your bowl of oatmeal or smoothie for a smooth and salty kick. Or, give gluten-free peanut flour a try while whipping up pancakes, waffles, or muffins.
Crushed peanuts can be sprinkled on top of all sorts of soups and salads for a satisfying crunch. For a childhood throwback, see if organic peanut butter and jelly sandwich makes you feel like a kid again. A homemade trail mix or granola can be enjoyed on the side or as a between-meal snack.
Many different international dishes contain peanut sauces, peanut-crusted cuts of meat, or peanut-infused marinades to incorporate the flavor in unique ways. Chances are, some of the meals you cook regularly at home can be re-conceptualized to include benefits of peanuts in some way, from peanut-glazed pork chops to Thai noodles with peanut sauce.
Peanut butter is used in various cakes, pies, bars, and cookies, often as a substitute or in addition to chocolate. But these types of peanut-y sweet, including peanut brittle, should be considered a treat to be enjoyed only once in a while.
Health Benefits of Peanuts Soup Sipper, courtesy of the National Peanut Board
1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 cup onion, chopped 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 pound yams, peeled, cut into chunks 1 large green apple, peeled, cut into chunks 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) vegetable broth 1 can (6 ounces) apple juice 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper Dairy sour cream, chopped peanuts, thinly sliced apples (optional)
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cumin. Sauté, stir frequently for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in yams, apple chunks, vegetable broth, apple juice, and cinnamon. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered about 20 minutes or until yams and apple are fork-tender. Add peanut butter; stir until melted. Place soup in batches in a food processor or blender container and puree until smooth. Return soup to pan and heat through; season with salt and pepper. Garnish soup with dairy sour cream, peanuts and apple slices, if desired.
So whether you prefer simply dipping a spoon into a jar of peanut butter, cracking the nuts straight from the shells, or incorporating peanuts in your cooking in a more sophisticated manner, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to introducing more benefits of peanuts into your diet. Get creative and see what other ideas you can come up with.
Also Read: 10 Important Health Benefits of Folic Acid